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CONTENTS, most recent first:

62) AN IRATE 1-CHICKEN FARMER, No signature (7/2/04)
57) OMEGA-3 CONTENT OF CHICKEN, HS Wong (9/27/03)
56) HOW CHICKEN MASH WAS INVENTED, Robert Plamondon (6/7/03)
55) ENZYMES, PET, LADINO CLOVER - MISC FEED INFO, Chicken-Feed at (5/4/03)
54) PREVENTING WORM PARASITES, Robert Plamondon (4/28/03)
53) DOGS N CHICKENS, ChickenFeed at (4/22/03)
(I'm tickled pink! ---ks)
HS Wong (4/9/03)
51) HEN TO ACCEPT BABY CHICKS -- HOW?, Kristine (4/9/03)
50) LAST DAYS OF INCUBATION, R. Bloch (4/9/03)
ChickenFeed at (3/25/03)
48) TURMERIC AND GARLIC FOR CRD, H.S. Wong (3/25/03)
ChickenFeed at (2/23/03)
46) WINTER WASTE MANAGEMENT, R. Bloch (12/3/02)
45) WINTER WASTE MANAGEMENT, Julia (12/3/02)
44) TRANS FATS, S. Royer (2/24/02)
43) FATS IN FEEDS, R. Plamondon (2/21/02)
42) YELLOW GREASE, A. Royle(2/18/02)
39) CHICKEN GUARD DOGS, L. Owlsley (11/14/01)
R. Plamondon (11/13/01)
32) ORGANIC OR...??

-------- begin posts --------

H.S. Wong, April 9, 2005

General poultry raising is pretty much well researched and documented. Poultry Breeding and Genetics by R.D. Crawford is a good reference book to have. If I am raising MEAT chickens (I have no experience with layers or breeders) for my own consumption (ie small scale), this is what I would do:

1. Select a slow growing breed. Fast growing breeds that reach 2 kilo in 40 days or so will not have the time to accumulate the desirable fatty acids from grasses and plants into their meats, much less to convert plant omega 3 to DHA and EPA. My findings have been that chickens need to be on grass for at least 45 days before they can start to accumulate DHA in any significant quantities and for the omega 6:omega 3 ratio to start improving. The maximum I can push down the ratio, without supplementation, is 6 to 1. That seems to be a natural limit (some academician may want to do a research on this). For most of us, I think 6:1 may be enough. With supplementation the ratio can go as low as 2:1. The best supplement is marine algae. For those raising organic chickens and wish to have it all, there are marine algae farms producing pollutant-free algae. The inclusion rate is a total of 20gms over the last 14 days.

2. Plant a large variety of plants and grasses for them to forage on. I have 20 to 30 varieties of plants. Select plants high in omega 3. Traditionally plants chosen for pasture have been those high in protein. I am not familiar with grasses and plants in the West, but two grasses that I have tested to be high in omega 3 are guinea (panicum maximum) and stylo (stylosanthes spp.), which may be found in the West. Earlier on, I had mentioned napia (pennisetum purpurcum), but now I would advice against it as it is too invasive and will create management problems. Pasture management is an entire field of study all together. A good book to start on the subject is Greener Pastures On Your Side Of The Fence by Bill Murphy. The Albrecht papers by William Albrecht, Soil, Grass & Cancer by Andre Voisin and Secrets of the Soil, Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird are interesting reads and will provide other dimensions to the subject.

Treat the soil and the grass well, as there is an interconnectedness all the way from the soil right up to the nutrients available in the meats and vegetables and fruits that are grown on them. The ?qi? or "chi" flow is continuous (my Oriental side speaking) :)

63) "GRASS-FED" CERTIFICATION IN CALIFORNIA, lizgriff at, November 6, 2004

We raise "free range chickens" and the term in our case implies totally free range. Their portable coop sits out in a field full of grass and they forage to their heart's content. I would definitely say that the [legal definition of the "free range"] term needs to include "grass" covering the ground, with day long access, even if it is dry grass.(seasonaly) I've heard how freely the term is used. We are ridiculously small here in our neck of the woods, but stand by our quality and word. We have 160 acres and only have chickens and beef. Our County of Marin is just now offering a grass-fed certification, which will clarify the term. Check with Marin Co. Ag Extension for more details. They have a great program.

62) AN IRATE 1-CHICKEN FARMER, No signature, July 2, 2004

I think that your website does not explain a lot about how to feed one chicken. As a starter I do not even know what a pullet is and I do not have a clue why you are saying that 17% layer ration what is that?Second of all how are you going to feed 600 pounds of soybeans to one chicken. You need to actually tell what you are talking about.
[Thank you. Sorry I was not able to help you. Perhaps if you would state your questions clearly, I or someone else might be able to assist. --- Chicken-Feed]

"HS Wong"
hs_wong33 at
July 1, 2004

The situation in my country may be entirely different from yours. In my country, we have 3 sources for lab testing. One is labs in universities. Most univ with an agri or animal husbandry faculty in my country will provide tests at nominal costs to farmers and industry stakeholders. I do my lipids test at an university lab. The next category are labs set up by the Government for all stakeholders in the food industry. Here, a poultry farmer for example can send his birds if they are sick to determine the exact pathogen that's causing the problem. Or, we can send dressed birds for tests on salmonella, e coli contamination. They do these tests for free as a service to the industry to raise standards of food safety and quality. The last category are commercial labs and these may be expensive. Generally, one just have to tell them the purpose of the intended test and they will give you a proposal - it can range from a detailed expensive one to one that's moderate in cost but serves our purposes. For example if you feed antibiotics to your chickens and you wish to test for residues in the dressed bird, you can just ask for test on that specific antibiotic, which will be inexpensive. On the other hand, if for marketing purposes you intend to prove to your buyers you use no antibiotics at all, then the lab may have to test for 10 or more common antibiotics. That may be expensive.

My background is in corporate finance and other Wall Street kind of stuff. No relevance to what I am doing now. What I am doing now calls for passion, eye for detail and a deep pocket to pay for the learning curve.


June 10, 2004

I have been raising chickens for meat and eggs for the last three years. In that period I have butchered three flocks for meat and am now developing my third flock of layers. When I started, I let the chickens out of their coop to roam at will from sunup to sundown, but cut that practice out when my egg production dropped by twenty-five percent because the hens were laying their eggs where I could't find them. I now keep them in the coop until 3:00 p.m. daily, then let them roam at will. As I understand the present federal guidelines for use of the "free-range" label, a chicken must have a minimum of 15 minutes a day outside of the chicken house. My chickens get far more time than that and I don't truly feel that they are free-range by any stretch of the imagination. A wild turkey or a duck has free range, as does a pidgeon in the largest city's parks. I cannot even begin to imagine how one could consider that a chicken with fifteen minutes to stretch its legs outside of the chicken house could by the wildest consideration be thought of as "free-range," much less be defined that way under fedearal law or policy. _____________________________________________
Date: May 23, 2004
Unfortunately, I do not have time to give you a full explanation of my view, but I do want to give you some of my thoughts. You say that you want to see solid government regulation to define the term "free range". I would propose that instead of encouraging this, that we promote personal farmer - consumer relationships and have "customer inspected" farms. If the customer likes what he/she sees at a local farm, then they will buy it. If they don't like it, they will look elsewhere. Fecal factory concentration camp chicken producers are government inspected, but the stuff they market still isn't fit to eat. Government regulations won't solve the problem, they will only give people a false sense of security. There's my opinion in an eggshell.
Best Regards,


"HS Wong"
hs_wong33 at
Feb. 7, 2004

You can "save" your farm for the future, not for now. For now you have to do what the Government says.

I asked how you know it is avian flu because newcastle (sempar) will have the same signs and also, if it is a virulent strain (jenis yang kuat) the death rate (kadar kematian) will be the same.

To save the farm for the future, do the following:

1. make sure your farm from now on is a single species farm. In particular, do not have ducks together with your chickens. If there is a duck farm near your farm, either move your poultry farm away, or have the duck farm move away. This is because ducks are carriers (pembawa kuman) of avian flu and most times show no signs.

2. Make sure your farm is located further than 20km from a bird sanctuary (kawasan perlindungan burung liar) especially waterfowl (burung burung air).

3. Sterilise your farm. The flu virus is very susceptiable to heat and the best method of sterilising is using heat as follows:
a. move all organic matter to a hole - this include dung, feathers, litter, feed, etc. All throw into this big hole, pour petrol in and burnt it. Remember, this include all feed that you have in your store.
b. get a blow-torch - I use one using LPG and flame all surfaces in the barn (reban), external areas, etc. Careful, don't end up burning the buildings down. After that, wash off with detergent. After it has dried, spray down with disinfectant. Note that disinfectant works best when it is clean, it does not work so well if surfaces are dirty with organic matter.

4. After the above, open up all your rebans to the sun, chop down branches that prevent sunlight from heating the soil, etc. Leave them like that for a few months until the outbreak is over.

5. In the interim, start a pest eradication program - get rid of rats, cockroaches, flies, etc.


1. If you are not into pastured or organic, consider a closed house operation. If you are using open house system, have netting available to prevent wild birds from getting into the house to eat the feed and spread disease.

2. Vaccinate your birds against all endemic diseases in your geographical area. My understanding is that most of Indonesia is endemic for newcastle, gumboro, fowlpox, fowl cholera and infectious bronchitis. Birds weakened by these endemic diseases will catch avain flu faster and more severely.

3. Now that your government has started on avian flu vaccination, your new stock must always be vaccinated against the flu otherwise the outbreak will occur again and again. Consult the vet.

4. Strenghten the immune system of your birds by using traditional herbal medicines (jamu).

5. Start off your new chicks with a probiotic that includes bacillus subtilis. Check with your vet.

6. Start a bio-security procedure for your farm. Write to me off-list for details.

For your friends, if the birds are healthy, vaccinate the birds with the field strain of the avian flu. Buy the vaccine from a reputable supplier as there are people taking avantage of the situation selling nonsence. Vaccinating now will reduce the mortality.

To prevent the avian flu from becoming one that can spread from human to human and create a disaster for Indonesia, tell your friends to do the following:
1. If anybody has human flu, do not go near the chickens. Stay away. Stay far away.
2. All workers must be vaccinated for human flu.
3. All workers must wear N95 masks and gloves.
4. All pig farms near poultry farms must be isolated and secured. People and vehicles going into the pig farm must be sterilised. Some means of preventing wild birds from going into the pig farm must be implemented.

This is what I can think off for now as I have just come back from my farm all hot and sweaty.

Good luck.

"HS Wong"
hs_wong33 at
Sept. 27, 2003

My comment arose from a discussion I had with a biochemist and a veterinary researcher from the local agri. university. While they agree that ruminants can extract most if not all, the necessary nutrients from grasses and plants, they do not agree that the same is true for non-ruminants. I think we will not disagree with them on that point.

However, where there may be a point of contention is their assertion that poultry cannot extract most of their required nutrients from plants. They cite their own field studies where they found that wild jungle fowl mainly feed on fruits, seeds and nuts in terms of plant material (which they can more readily digest), and animals such as insects, fresh water prawns, snails and leeches. They asserted that it is more likely that free-range chickens have high omega 3s from the insects and snails, etc. they eat than from the plants themselves.

The result of the discussion was the agreement to test my chickens for omega 3 and other fatty acids and comparing them with commercial chickens. Arising from this first test, we intend to do further tests to narrow down the actual sources of omega 3, if any, - whether plant or animals or both, and then to formulate feeding strategies to improve the fatty acids profile.

My comment on the difficulty of finding sufficient food or plant sources of omega 3 in a way reflects my acceptance of some of their arguements concerning the availability of nutrients from plants. Here, I am excluding seeds, fruits and grains. I expect the results from the tests soon.

"Robert Plamondon" robert at
36475 Norton Creek Rd, Blodgett OR 97326
June 7, 2003

This idea is how chicken mash was invented. The early researchers discovered that if you set out a feeder of beef scrap and a feeder of grain, the chickens laid a lot more eggs than if you left out the beef scrap.

Then they discovered that if you mixed the beef scrap with ground grain, you could get them to eat more beef scrap than they would of their own free will, and this caused a higher egg production.

The third step was to junk up the mash will all sorts of el cheapo ingredients like wheat bran, increasing the fiber, unbalancing the protein, and reducing the palatability of the mash, but reducing its cost. Nobody seemed to notice that this interfered with egg production and rate of growth.

The fourth step, forty years later, was to take the wheat bran and other high-fiber ingredients back out again.

So, yes, you can sneak in stuff the chickens don't like into the feed, and yes, this works fine if you don't overdo it. My impression is, though, that with the exception of overprocessed protein supplements like soybean products and beef scrap, they like what's good for them. If they ignore an ingredient, there's probably a reason.

-- Robert
[Note: This post is best read from bottom up]
Chicken-Feed at YahooGroups
May 4, 2003

I need to know if Fava beans and Crimson Clover are toxic to chickens as this is a cover crop I have planted in an area where they will roam.



Date: Sun, 4 May 2003 11:29:55 -0700
From: "Robert Plamondon"
Subject: Speaking of Clover

Speaking of clover, I've posted an Ohio Experiment Station bulletin on the subject to my Web site at [Note: page does not come up --ks] . This bulletin, from 1949, talks about the interaction between pasture quality and feed rations. With a highly palatable, long-season pasture, such as ladino clover, the chickens get most of their protein and all of their vitamins from foraging, and the ration can be greatly simplified. With a grass pasture, which is neither as palatable nor as long-lasting (once the green color starts to fade, chickens stop eating it), the protein content of the ration must be increased.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon
36475 Norton Creek Rd, Blodgett OR 97326
robert at


Date: Sun, 4 May 2003 11:27:06 -0700
From: "Robert Plamondon"
Subject: Re: Fava Beans and Crimson Clover

They'll love crimson clover. It's good for them.

Fava beans are almost certainly good for them, too. Generally speaking, it's hard to poison chickens unless you starve them into eating things that are bad for them. If you offer them some kind of vaguely respectable chicken feed in addition to range, they'll be very selective about the forage they eat.

-- Robert

From: HS Wong
Subject: Re: Fava Beans and Crimson Clover

In humans, eating undercooked fava beans gives rise to the anemic blood disorder called favism.



What is PET?
From: ravithakre

I have heard of Purified Terephthalic Acid being used in Chicken / Poultry feed as an ingredient. Can anyone tell me what purpose it serves. Is it helpful or is this harmful for the birds. Please give me information in this regard. About PTA--- it is a raw material used in Polyester and PET manufacture.


From: HS Wong
To: ChickenFeed at
Sent: Sunday, May 04, 2003 6:10 PM
Coke comes in PET bottles.

Ravi, some poultry businessmen and feed manufacturers use antibiotics as growth enhancers. To make the antibiotics work better, you add PTA.

I use live digestive enzymes to make my chickens absorb nutrients from feed more completely and their growth rates are better than chickens fed on antibiotics.

The antibiotics and PTA way is the way of big business and scientists. Using nature (live enzymes, etc) is the way of farmers.



R.A. Zacla wrote:

You must be referring to lacto-baccili. I've heard about it's benefits even for swine and cattle, and even as compost accelerator.

From: HS Wong
Subject: Re: PTA use in chicken feed

I was referring to enzymes. For example, I sprout mung beans to 1/4 inch only, and then sprinkle some on top of regular feed if I need to speed up weight gain (which is not often). I do use lacto-baccili on day olds for the first week to establish friendly intestinal flora fast. I also hear a lot of good results from use of EM (Effective Microorganisms) in disinfecting premises, speeding up composting, returning used pastures to "health" faster, etc.



"Robert Plamondon" robert at
April 28, 2003

Earthworms are an intermediate host for blackhead and tape worms, aren't they? But if you're growing worms in a bin and don't add any material from your flock (or anyone else's flock), the cycle of infection is broken. Just don't dig your initial worms out of your chicken yard.

Since these parasites have a complicated life cycle, I don't know how long they can survive in a worm bin. In any event, if you start out with uninfested worms, they ought to stay uninfested if you don't feed them anything from a livestock operation, including the dirt under the animals' feet.

Robert Plamondon
36475 Norton Creek Rd, Blodgett OR 97326

Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2003
There are 25 messages in this issue.
Topics in this digest:
1. Dog/Chickens
From: Mapetras5 at
2. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Michael Pasterik
3. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: jelly40746 at
4. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Kim & Garth Travis
5. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: "Heika"
6. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Mapetras5 at
7. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Julia
8. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Mapetras5 at
9. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Mapetras5 at
10. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: "Marilyn Holt"
11. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Mapetras5 at
12. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Julia
13. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: "Heika"
14. RE: Dog/Chickens
From: "C. Johnson"
15. RE: Re: Keeping rabbits above chickens
From: "C. Johnson"
16. Re: Keeping rabbits above chickens
From: "kbdpezz"
17. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Mapetras5 at
18. chicken cpr
From: jim cartwright
19. Re: chicken cpr
From: Mapetras5 at
20. Re: chicken cpr
From: "Gail Cross"
21. Re: chicken cpr
From: jim cartwright
22. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: "Raul C. Alcazar"
23. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Kim & Garth Travis
24. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Kim & Garth Travis
25. Re: Dog/Chickens
From: Mapetras5 at

Message: 1
Subject: Dog/Chickens

How do you train a dog/puppy not to kill chickens?


Message: 2
I have heard of at least 2 ways, I have not tried either. Our dog is on a run, and is older, so she isn't much of a problem. The dog is more annoyed by the birds coming right up to her house to steal dog food, she then half-heartedly chases them away.

2 ideas to train the dog, neither sound nice:
1) Take a dead chicken, feathers and all and hang it from the electric fence. When the pup/dog goes after it, the dog learns that chickens are electrified, so don't mess with them.

2) If/when the dog does kill one of your birds tie the carcass to the dogs collar and make the dog drag the thing around with it. Personally, I don't like either of these methods, and I doubt if the second one would even work, the dog would probably just eat the bird. The first may work if the dog it smart and/or is already electric fence aware.

I thought we would have a problem with cats, but our cats have been around the chickens all their lives. Even the neighbors and stray cats don't seem to bother out birds. I do keep the cats out of the brooder.

If the dog is well behaved and obeys, walking with him among the chickens and scolding/"No" training may be enough. You don't want the dog to even chase the birds, as the stress would affect laying.

Mike Pasterik
Providence Pastures Farm
NW Pennsylvania USA

Message: 3
ALWAYS supervise the dog around the chickens. Never trust him alone with the birds. Knowledge of basic commands (sit/stay) helps. I've kept the dog leashed, walking among the chickens to familiarize the dog with the birds.

Might want to pick a time that you're not press with chores. I have a can of coins (It's pretty noisy), and I call it my No-No gets the point across when shaken at the dog. Remember to praise the dog when he's done good. It can be done, just patience. My dogs now help "herd" the hens back to the coop!

~*~*~I am My Dog's Mom ~*~*~
Owned by: Rockie G. (aka Go-me)
Reilly & Einstein
Forever in my heart Patches O'Brindle
(Until we meet again sweety)

Message: 4
Someone gave me this one on another list, it really works. I have a coydog, so she is real hard to train not to kill. Now-a-days, we have 4 mallard ducks that wander the property and the dog only harasses them, she does not kill anymore.

Unfortunately, this method involves the dog attacking a bird. When it does, you wail and cry as if she/he killed one of your children. Pick up the injured or dead bird, hold it close like a baby and really let go with the grief. When I did this, both my dogs, [I have a black lab as well], put themselves in their house for a week. They haven't killed a thing [other than mice and rats] in six months, which is a record at my place.

I imagine you would have to give the dog a chance to really bond with you for this method to work, but it is the only thing I have found that has worked.

Bright Blessings,

Message: 5
Ugh. This is amazingly relevant for me, since my pup of 13 1/2 weeks just killed one of my free range laying hens yesterday. She has been around the birds since she came to live with me at 7 weeks of age, and has been scolded about chasing the birds. She has done pretty well, until yesterday. She was in her own fenced yard, and one of the free range girls went into the yard. I heard the chicken's distress call, and went to investigate, but it was too late. I took the chicken away from her, screaming in anger, and proceeded to chase her around the yard, screeching at the top of my lungs, smacking her with the dead chicken. Hmmm. I wonder what a professional dog trainer would think about that...

Only time will tell if my method was effective... :)

Heika Sample
On a Wing and a Prayer Farm
Sprague River, OR, USA

Message: 6

Message: 7
> How do you train a dog/puppy not to kill chickens?
That's a tough one. I think a lot depends on the dog. Our older dog is a mixed breed, husky/shepherd/coyote/akita/primitive dog/nobody knows and she has a very strong prey drive. She has had a chicken in her mouth twice but neither time killed or seriously injured the bird. I think that's only because she was pretty tightly supervised--each time we were on the scene as she grabbed the bird (came running when we heard the squawks)--and she's pretty obedient. A loud "DROP IT!" and she did, each time. That said, I would never trust her to have access to the birds. When I go into their "inside" coop, which is a room of straw bales inside a big hangar, she waits by the doorway and watches carefully, but I'm right there. . .

Our younger dog is a German Shepherd, from German stock and plush coated (they have a reputation for sweetness, I'm told). He definitely has a strong prey drive for things like rabbits and ground squirrels, but two days ago I found out that he's not so bad with chickens. I had given the hens some scratch, and apparently didn't latch the gate properly. Later, I looked out from the house, and there was Mocha, lying on the ground surrounded by curious hens. When one or two pecked at him he got up, but made no move to chase or threaten them. I ran out there, thankful that Java was safely in the house, and tried to get Mocha to help me herd them back into the run. He wasn't too good at that, though--he's just a big sweet dog.

I'm sure the fact that the chickens were quite familiar to Mocha (and he to them) made a big difference. He's been watching them through the netting for over a year. He knows I care for them. I was just lucky that Java was not outside. I believe breed and personality count for a lot. I know that for particular livestock guarding breeds, they make an effort to "socialize" the dog to the particular stock when it is a young puppy, and that people do this with poultry as well as sheep or goats. I don't think the dead chicken around the neck thing would bother a dog at all, unless it's the constant ostracizing such a dog would get from all the human members of his "pack." Most dogs love stinky rotting carcasses! But most dogs also want to get along with their leaders--this is why Java drops the chickens, even though she wants to kill them.

What kind of dog are you talking about? You're most likely to succeed with a non-predatory dog, like a Golden Retriever.

Julia in Waunakee

Message: 8
In a message dated 4/21/2003 3:01:19 PM Central Daylight Time, blueduck at writes:

> I heard the chicken's distress call, and went to investigate, but it
> was too late. I took the chicken away from her, screaming in anger, and
> proceeded to chase her around the yard, screeching at the top of my lungs,
> smacking her with the dead chicken. Hmmm. I wonder what a professional
> dog
> trainer would think about that...
> Only time will tell if my method was effective... :)

ROFL... Only because I know what you mean. I raged, something I do NOT do and then spanked her with a wooded spoon. My next option is to by a shock collar. I have heard they work well. You simply watch and every time they approach the dog you shock at different levels depending on how close they are and behaviour. Any thoughts here? It resembles the chicken in the fence but reverses the order a bit and chickens are not bound.

The dog is too sweet and too much my little boys dog to trash. She has been with them since they were 1 day old and never bothered she is only around 13-14 weeks too, humm, wondering at the age thing.


Message: 9
In a message dated 4/21/2003 4:03:04 PM Central Daylight Time, drfood at writes:
> What kind of dog are you talking about? You're most likely to succeed
> with a non-predatory dog, like a Golden Retriever.

She is a rat terrier and Black lab mix. Her size is of her mom the rat terrier but the looks of pappa the black lab. Neither of which are mine.

She has a sweet disposition and earlier would herd the chickens into the pen if they escaped. Now she has been caught eating one!! Argh....


Message: 10
My experience--from more than 30 years has told me that it ain't gonna happen. If a dog has already killed a chicken, it will likely go back for more despite your anger. In fact, according to what I've been told, the dog may not even relate the punishment to the killing of the bird. The only dog I ever had success with was a puppy when the chicks were day olds and we put them together in the same playpen. The communication between the birds and the pup seemed to do the trick. Unfortunately, that dog was killed before she was full grown, so we never did find out if the lesson would carry over to the next lot of birds.

All our other dogs go after the hens and ducks and will kill them with no provocation although they're gentle with every other animal we have including kittens. If not killing, they will harrass them and make them run--apparently for the sheer fun of it. After having layers around for many years, we have reconciled to the fact that we have to keep the dogs away--it's annoying but it's the only way to know for sure that it won't happen again. The breed of dog may make a difference--we've had mostly labs and retrievers, so of course it's instinct with them. But we also had a tiny shih-tzu whose main joy in life was knowing he could make the chickens run away from him.

Trying to teach a dog not to kill birds by giving them a bird to kill doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Message: 11
In a message dated 4/21/2003 4:13:48 PM Central Daylight Time, mholt2726 at writes:

> My experience--from more than 30 years has told me that it ain't gonna
> happen. If a dog has already killed a chicken, it will likely go back
> more despite your anger. In fact, according to what I've been told, the
> dog may not even relate the punishment to the killing of the bird.


> The only dog I ever had success with was a puppy when the chicks were day
> olds and we put them together in the same playpen.

We did that!

> The communication between the birds and the pup seemed to do the
> trick.Unfortunately, that dog was killed before she was full grown, so we
> never did find out if the lesson would carry over to the next lot of birds.

Hummm, I don't think so....


Message: 12
On Monday, April 21, 2003, at 04:04 PM, Mapetras5 at wrote: > My next option is to by a shock collar. I have heard they work well.
> You
> simply watch and every time they approach the dog you shock at
> different
> levels depending on how close they are and behaviour. Any thoughts
> here?

An e-collar may be useful. Just make sure you put the time in to teach the dog about it properly, otherwise you can really freak out the dog. You want to take the dog out to some neutral safe place, like an empty dog park or fenced in area, and let the dog wander around. Watching the dog carefully, try the lowest setting on the collar. You're looking for just a bit of a reaction--sort of a "hey, what was that?" where she picks her head up suddenly. That's the right level to use most of the time.

If later on she has learned all about the collar and you give a command and she deliberately tries something else, then you might use one level higher. Just don't crank the thing up to max and "zap" her--you can easily end up with a dog that's scared of the collar and can't learn anything with it on.

I wouldn't shock the dog for having the chickens approach her--rather, for her focussing too much on the chickens. You'd want to teach her to ignore the birds and come to you no matter what. However, if she were to suddenly grab a bird, then that might be a good time for a mighty zap!

> Now she has been caught eating one!! Argh....

Oooh, boy--she was actually eating the bird? That's going to make it tougher, for sure. Lots of dogs never figure out how to "open up" a dead prey animal, so the food aspect never gets into it. I think that's the rat terrier coming out, and that's going to be really difficult. Do you really need to have the dog loose amongst the chickens? I think she's sounding more like my older dog--not to be trusted. If you work hard, you can train her to stay at the gate and not enter the pen, etc, but I'll be really impressed if she'll ever let a loose chicken pass in front of her nose without grabbing it, now that she knows what's under the feathers!!

Sorry to be negative. Good luck to you!

Julia in Waunakee

Message: 13
Hmmm.... I have an older dog, an American Pit Bull Terrier, that has a very high prey drive. He has killed birds before... but doesn't now. At least, not too often. It has been over a year since he has done it, and the last time was in the company of another dog. I think this was an instance of pack mentality. We sorted it out, the two of us. He walks quite calmly among the birds now, and will avoid the turkeys when they follow him around gobbling. As long as he isn't in the company of another dog, I trust him completely. Because of my experience with him, I believe it is possible to retrain a dog to be at least better around poultry, although perfect may not be an attainable goal.

Heika Sample
On a Wing and a Prayer Farm
Sprague River, OR, USA

Message: 14
Kathie thanks for the tip i should have try this on my dalmation when he killed the rooster thanks DJ

Message: 15
Val i just gave the bunnies poultry pullets and greens like kale scraps etc. My hens have a mean streak also and the bunnies learn to fight back. They can be nasty also.DJ

Message: 16
Subject: Re: Keeping rabbits above chickens
Just wondering do your chickens and rabbits sleep in the same house or how does that work?

Woodhaven Farm

Message: 17
In a message dated 4/21/2003 4:25:55 PM Central Daylight Time, drfood at writes:
> I wouldn't shock the dog for having the chickens approach her--rather,
> for her focussing too much on the chickens.

Of course. My thought was if she focuses on them as in chases or attempts to attack then try the lowest until I get a response. Shouldn't take much, please?

> You'd want to teach her to ignore the birds and come to you no matter what.
> However, if she were to suddenly grab a bird, then that might be a good > time for a
> mighty zap!

My idea exactly. I don't like the thing but I may try it.

> >Now she has been caught eating one!! Argh....
> Oooh, boy--she was actually eating the bird? That's going to make it
> tougher, for sure. Lots of dogs never figure out how to "open up" a
> dead prey animal, so the food aspect never gets into it. I think
> that's the rat terrier coming out, and that's going to be really
> difficult. Do you really need to have the dog loose amongst the
> chickens?

They are not and she is not. However they do get loose and she does get to the other yard. We have two back yards and the chickens are in a yard separate still.

> I think she's sounding more like my older dog--not to be
> trusted. If you work hard, you can train her to stay at the gate and
> not enter the pen, etc, but I'll be really impressed if she'll ever let
> a loose chicken pass in front of her nose without grabbing it, now that
> she knows what's under the feathers!!

She is a very smart dog. She can even open them back screen door to come in and out! She is still very young too, around 4 months. So here is hoping.

> Sorry to be negative. Good luck to you!

Honesty is reality. I deal with facts and this is a fact of life. We, my family, livestock, and pets, must all coexist and it is my responsibility as manager of the home to figure out how to do this.

Thanks for the advice,

Message: 18
Subject: chicken cpr

While talking with my friend,my four year old was showing her four year old how to bath a chicken.My little helper came running to me shouting, daddy I've done something to"squalkie'', when I rounded the corner, she was lifeless, the chicken I mean.I look around,asking my little girl what happened. She informed me that she was only giving"squalkie"a bath. The bird was dead,or so close that I didn't know the difference. I picked her up, turned her head down and depressed her chest. with each depression, I was a little firmer. She finely through her head back and water drizzled from her mouth. This kept me pumping for 15minutes, her eyes opened and she lifted her head more. At that point, I wrapped her in a towel, and placed her in the nest boxes. the next morning she was running around like nothing happened, and two days latter she is laying. true story------Jim

Message: 19
Subject: Re: chicken cpr This was a hillarious story. I can see it. I have 6 children and believe me
I can see it. ROFL


Message: 20
Subject: Re: chicken cpr

Bless you, Jim, for perservering to save that feathered life. I think that's fabulous, and now I've learned something that just may come in handy someday.

Gail in MO

Message: 21
Subject: Re: chicken cpr

I was so wound up, I should of edited befor sending. but itis funny now. some grammer errors aside

Message: 22
Subject: Re: Dog/Chickens

I keep my dogs full and satisfied. Hungry animals will take on anything to satisfy their stomach. I don't give them raw chicken entrails or raw chicken head or feet, not even feathers. I cook them first(except the feathers) before I give to the dogs.

Message: 23
I had tried the chicken around the neck, the severe spankings [I never hit her for anything else], tying my dog up, etc. But I did train a dog that goes after prey by wailing with grief, not anger. My girl is 1/2 coyote and 1/2 blue heeler. If your dog is bonded with you, this really does work.
Bright Blessings,
Message: 24
I do not give them a bird to kill, but if they have the temperament to kill a chicken it will happen. When it does, then apply the grief method. Dusty has killed in the past and now is safe with full grown mallards loose in the yard. I would not leave her alone with baby chicks, that would be tempting fate. But she no longer digs under fences to get them.
Bright Blessings,
Message: 25
In a message dated 4/22/2003 6:36:31 AM Central Daylight Time, alcazar at writes:
> I keep my dogs full and satisfied. Hungry animals will take on anything to
> satisfy their stomach. I don't give them raw chicken entrails or raw
> chicken head or feet, not even feathers.

This may have been where our trouble started. Believe me she is a well fed dog. When I butchered the turkeys she found where we buried the heads. I think that started the whole mess and she was in the first yard watching us in the second. She is smart, like I said earlier.


April 9, 2003
HS Wong

Sticky chicks or stuck chicks? Sticky chicks have gooey stuff all over and one of the causes (the most common one) is too high humidity! Your chicks have not lost enough "water"; hence the "sticky" stuff. On the other hand, if your chicks are "stuck" to the internal surface of the shell and suffocates, etc., that's due to too little humidity. They dry out too fast and gets stuck to the membrance which prevents them from turning in the shell, or from breaking the shell completely.

April 9, 2003
Kristine at ChickenFeed at

The only way it will work is if they have been setting close to the normal time on fake eggs. Then you slip them in under them at night when they are not really awake enough. Otherwise if the hen has not been setting the chick is just a nuisance.

April 9, 2003
Ruth Bloch at ChickenFeed at

On day 18, take the turner out and lay the eggs on their side, fill the reservoir, close the lid and don't open it again until the chicks are finished hatching and dry. Then you can move them to a nice warm brooder you should have all set up and waiting for them. I always like to turn on the heat lamp on the 20th day so it's nice and toasty.

March 25, 2003
ChickenFeed at

"None of my poultry eat ants. Not even the guineas. We seem to have two different kinds around here. The tiny little sweet and grease eating ants and the larger carpenter ants."

"In the fall when the carpenter ants swarm to build new colonies, my hens and guineas have a feast! They eat tons of them."

"All I know is the only part of my yard that doesn't get fire ants is the chicken yard!"

"yes, they love 'em"

"Maybe your ants are tastier than mine? My ducks will eat the grubs but nothing here eats the ant itself. Maybe it's time I got an aardvaark."

March 25, 2003
HS Wong

Death from CRD I have found from experience is often due to complications arising from other bacterial infection as a result of weakened immune system - e coli for example will cause death in a weakened bird and the tell-tale signs of 'cheesy exudates' will be found on necropsy. [C'Feed Note: Chronic Respiratory Disease, for a good discussion, see the Queensland, Australia Poultry Diseases Website]

CRD is readily treated using antibiotics though I have found faster response from garlic and tumeric - 3 days as opposed to 5 to 8 days for antibiotics. [C'Feed Note: tumeric and turmeric are the same thing; both spellings are correct.] In my experience, using garlic and tumeric tends to lessen complications from secondary infection also. Antibiotics does not seem to have as good a protective effect against secondary infection possibly due to bacterial resistance, and also possibly due to the fact that it does not help boost immune system as tumeric would. (Asian traditional longetivity cocktail - pound fresh tumeric and squeeze out one tablespoon pure juice. Mix in some top quality honey (manuka is best) and drink it once a week.)

February 23, 2003
ChickenFeed at

------------ post on Feb 23, 2003-------------

I have 40 laying chickens. Actually 34 hens. They cost me 300 lbs or more a month.I buy laying mash at $12 per 100lbs. My thought is can I add shelled corn which I can get for $8.00 per 100lbs. To help reduce the cost here. 200 lbs laying mash, 100 lbs shelled corn? Everything else to help mix different ingredients are too expensive and just as well keep buying the laying mass. Any other tips to help reduce cost. All is greatly welcome

---------------------Reply #1------------------------

You saved 4.00 a month!!! What does that cost your hens in lost protein?? Corn is a good source of carbs, but not a good source of protiens, vitamins, minerals... So I guess the big question is why do you want to reduce your costs? Are these eggs for a little side business of egg sales, if they were laying at 50%, you would get 42 dozen eggs a month, at 1.00 a dozen, you are covering your feed bill. If you are tight for cash and can't afford the extra 4.00 a month, lose some of the birds. If you just want a flock of birds and don't care much about production.....add the corn. It just depends on your situation. Where else can you get good feed supplements, try your local grocer, he is probably pitching out a lot of produce that is getting a little old. Hens won't mind, especially in the winter. Restaurants do the same thing. Set up a deal with the local business, you supply some buckets, they fill them. That's even cheaper than corn and better for the birds.

----------------------Reply #2------------------------

I can't remember how long it has been since I could spend $36.00 a month on feed. I feed a ton a month. I would be happy to get laying mash at $6.00 a bag... where do you live? Even at the ton price, my feed doesn't fall below $7.45 for a 50 lb bag of laying pellets. Why don't you sell some of your eggs to offset costs? If each of your birds lay 25 eggs a month, that would be 900 eggs... 75 dozen. If you sold even half of those at a buck a carton, your birds would support themselves. If you sold a few more, you would actually make a profit. Or, incubate a few eggs and sell the chicks. Don't know what kind of birds we are talking about, so I can't do the math... :) Since I have owned my birds, I have never made a profit... however, that makes for a wonderful tax deduction. It lowers my income by around $6000.00, which is incredibly valuable. I wouldn't mess with the quality of the feed. Just doesn't pay off in the end. Might want to consider growing a garden for your girls... they love fresh veggies, its good for them, and it would reduce the amount of dry feed they eat.

-------------------Reply #3------------------------------

I understand the want to reduce feed costs. A lot of talk is done about selling eggs and that is really an easy thing. We sell our overage at 1.50 a dozen. My feed cost is 14.85/100# We get 16-18 eggs a day faithfully out of 20 hens and one rooster. He doesn't lay eggs but gotta keep my girls happy. < g> We light them in the winter so this is pretty steady. My family alone uses a dozen a day on the average. This is going to be going up as my boys get older too. So at present that means 30 dozen a month average. That means if I bought my own eggs it would cost me $45 a month and we use around 200# of feed a month, cost $30, in actuality more like 160-180#. That is only in feed! Pretty good deal. It also means I sell around 5-10 dozen a month average. So I make around 10.00 to 15.00 a month. So my actual benefit in simple terms is around $15/mo. Now this doesn't count the benefits from fertilizer, teaching tools for my children or the just plain companionship. I love to 'visit my girls'. I also spend another $5 on litter a month.

Sounds good to me. Of course I still am not counting the occasional vitamin or the replacement chicks. Just bought 30 replacements at 1.75 each, including shipping. I do this every other year. That is $50 and that doesn't include the food to raise them to laying stage. I am going to guess around 45.00 in feed to raise.

This means my total for replacement is around $100 to $150. I will either put the old chickens in a pot or sell them to the folks around here for $3-4 as two year old layers. Bringing back around 50.00. If I eat a couple that averages still a dollar a pound for the bird and that isn't too bad either. So that adds around $3/MO to my cost average over two years. You guys are welcome to check my figures. Looks like I am just about breaking even monetarily speaking. Using Storey's figures my cost per dozen should be around 75 cents or there abouts. This includes everything.

I did not add in the cost of housing as I took that as a total lose year. I think the investment was around $300. And then $130 on birds, as I bought 4 month old birds to cut time and speed production along that first year. They were laying in around 4 weeks.

Bottom line...First I would make sure I was getting the best cost of the best feed. Then second make sure you are not overfeeding. Next I would supplement the feed with kitchen and other scraps. We give them all the grass clippings in the mowing months, all but three here. Don't forget to visit them for some reason, mabey some here can explain it the lay better if held, stroked, and talked to on occasion. Then I would not forget to sell the overage and count my own consumption as a profit. Here organic eggs sell for 3.50 a dozen at the store so my $1.50 is a pretty good buy. LOL

[And later..] My daughter, the main one who feeds claims we only use around 120# a month. She is more accurate I think. She told me she is feeding around 4 # a day.

---------------Reply #4--------------

Hmmm, doesn't that seem like a lot of feed? I have only seven hens, so, ~1/5 the number you have. They do not go through anything near 60 pounds of feed every month--that would have me buying a new 50lb bag every 25 days or so...

I do give them table scraps and "scratch" mix, which is just cracked corn and wheat berries. They're getting more scratch now that it's so cold outside. Egg production has gone down, but they are still laying.

. . I agree with the idea about seeking out free scraps from grocery stores and restaurants--take that stuff out of the garbage stream (to be packed in landfills--how dumb is that?) and give it to the chickens, who will make lovely compost out of it if you give them plenty of carbon-rich bedding. Then you could sell the eggs and the compost!!

Maybe you've got some mice eating your feed?

December 3, 2002
Ruth Bloch

I use the deep litter system. When it does come time to empty the litter, I apply it to the tops of my raised beds in layers where it "sheet" composts through the winter. I occasionally let the chickens in there to scratch it up and stir it around for me and I am very happy with their work! I also use it as mulch for my rose and perrenial gardens, just spread it around in layers just up to but not touching the base of the plants. Great stuff!

December 3, 2002

> Hi All,
> What the heck do normal people do with the waste during the winter?
> With
> the heat lamp on, it stays around 0C (32F) in the coop.


I'm in Wisconsin, and our coop is also around freezing. I'm using the deep litter system, which means that there is already probably eight inches of mulch (shredded tree trimmings, fluffy dry leaves, a little straw, some sawdust and a lot of wood shavings) down on the concrete floor. I just keep adding more and more to it. The chickens' "coop" is actually an insulated room built of straw bales and other things that's inside our hangar (basically a metal shed pole barn). They have a run outdoors, but in the past few days I closed it off since it's been so cold. We finally have snow!

My husband is a woodworker (as a hobby) who likes to buy unfinished wood and run it through a planer and a jointer to finish it. This generates lots and lots of wonderful wood shavings--not as dusty as sawdust, but light and fluffy. I've got big trash bags full in the hangar and every time I go in I keep throwing more down wherever I see the droppings. If it's not too cold, I do a little digging around to keep everything mixed up. Theoretically the composting droppings will generate some heat--not sure I'm seeing that.

In the spring I plan to move the chickens back outside and move their sleeping coop (an insulated box on legs) back outside as well. Then I'll decide if I can just let the winter bedding compost where it is or if I should (more likely) wheelbarrow the whole thing out to the compost bins. I haven't had a problem with odor as long as I keep mixing in lots and lots of carbon stuff, just like any compost pile. I only have seven chickens so I've been able to keep up with it so far. The end of summer coop clean out produced nine wheel-barrow-loads of the most fantastic black and fluffy compost!

I think the compost is the most valuable thing my chickens produce, although I like the eggs, too.


Alice Royle (with > arrows)
Union Point Custom Feeds
Brownsville, Oregon
Scott Royer, responding

February 24, 2002

> I am not a big fan of hydrogenated vegetable oils, We don't
> use them here

Most people are starting to get a sense that they're not very good for you. Unfortunately, most people don't realize that they are probably one of the single most unhealthy things that they voluntarily put into their bodies. The US government is finally planning on requiring trans fat content labelling as part of the nutrition label despite several decades of heavy spending and lobbying by the food processing and seed-oil industries. There is long and sordid history to trans-fats that will hopefully come to an end soon. I am a firm believer that they should actually be banned for use in both human and animal foods. If they want to make plastics or industrial lubricants from it, they're welcome to do so, but it has no place anywhere in the food chain.

> As you know, we are a custom mill, so in addition to our
> own line of feeds, we make feeds folks request.
> So if they don't want to use tallow -- and being very
> familiar with a
> rendering plant I can understand that -- they need to use a
> vegetable oil.

I can certainly understand and respect your decision to carry it. That is simply good business. What I would hope to correct, however, is the error in judgement or lack of knowledge that leads people to request those products in the first place. For what it's worth, I agree completely that the conditions of rendering plants as well as much of the rest of the slaughter and pre-slaughter conditions are descpicable. The answer, however, is not turning to sub-standard alternatives like hydrogenated vegetable oils.

I understand and sympathize with the cost issues too. If you are producing your poultry for the conventional markets and competing in that way, perhaps there's no choice but to go with hydr. oils. I don't know, I can't pretend to know other's circumstances. If, however, you are producing for yourself or for a direct market that has specific standards, I seriously recommend avoiding the stuff if at all possible.

> I can't claim to have read those particular studies. Are
> you saying that all studies on hydrogenated vegetable oils say
> that it is "extremely bad"? I am not sure about the science
> behind that claim.

I would say that yours is an understandable and healthy skepticism. I would also suggest that you use the following links to investigate the issue to your own satisfaction. The first one should pull up a list of research press-releases relating to trans-fatty acids (the bad stuff in hydrogenated oils). You won't find a single one that came up with inconclusive results nor will you find one that validates trans-fats as a healthy or safe food. If anyone is aware of studies that have concluded otherwise, I would be greatly interested. The other link relates to a lipid researcher at the University of Maryland who has been fighting the deep industry pockets for decades to expose trans-fats for what they really are: low grade poison. This second link is really the more informative of the two. The links in the yellow box near the bottom of the page are very enlightening.

Hope this helps! [NOTE: Broken Link]


"Robert Plamondon" robert at
February 21, 2002

Basically, you don't want to put anything into the chicken feed if you don't know where it came from. And when you find out where it came from, one of the things you're looking for is whether everyone up and down the line was taking care of it.

Go out behind a few restaurants and look at the grease dumpsters. The only big difference between the garbage dumpsters and the grease dumpsters is that the garbage is fresher, because it gets picked up on a regular schedule....

Slaughterhouse byproducts like beef tallow probably aren't as variable as restaurant grease, since the tallow is manufactured at the slaughterhouse and there's money riding on having it done right, since many users of tallow aren't cheapskates like the yellow grease users, but are using tallow because it's the best thing for their application. You'd want to find a supplier that's knowlegeable about tallow, stores it properly, and never sells anything that's below grade. That's what suppliers are for.

Non-by products are probably the safest in terms of product quality, because the producer's whole income is riding on it (rather than just a tiny fraction, as with byproducts). But high-quality byproducts can be just as good as far more expensive products. The trick lies in being able to tell. It's an expert's game.

It's a good idea to leaf through the pages of poultry nutrition books to see what's said about the individual ingredients, because many of them have different effects on poultry than in man or other livestock. But it's also a good idea to talk to your supplier and ask him about the quality and variability of the ingredients. Stuff that looks good on paper isn't good in reality unless it's been produced and handled with a reasonable amount of TLC.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon *robert at

Alice Royle
Union Point Custom Feeds
Brownsville, OR
February 18, 2002

Yellow grease is recycled fry oil and other oily restaurant waste that they don't want to pour down the drain for fear of plugging it up. It is also illegal to pour it down the drain in most places because it is hard on the water treatment plants. It's a common ingredient in pet food, and is in some feeds. It is vegetable oil based.

It varies widely in quality. It can be nearly usable as human food, or it can be rancid and full of peroxides. Peroxides form when oils turn rancid, and can be carcinogenic. To combat that, antioxidants are added to the yellow grease at the renderer's plant. These can be innocuous amino acids, or less expensive more questionable things. It's like anything else, you have to know your sources if you want to use it.

There is good stuff and bad stuff.

Around here, there is one outfit that sells much more expensive yellow grease, and one that sells it cheap. There's a big difference in quality and additives between the two products. We aren't using any just now, but I expect we will carry some of the better stuff for use in boosting fat content for special high fat diets.

There is also tallow, which is rendered animal fat. That's pretty gross. It is sold by the same folks that sell yellow grease (but not to me).

Upstate New York
February, 2002


[Kim Salisbury replies]

Hi, Ali,

What is yellow fat?

[Ali replies]


Lucy Owlsley
Boulder Belt Organics, Ohio
Lucy Goodman-Owsley, goodows at
And Kim Salisbury, ChickenFeed owner
January 25, 2002


"I personally do not like the national rule and may well not recertify and call my food something other than organic or figure that enforcement will be lax and continue to use the O word."


Do you mean to say that enforcement might be too stringent for you to keep on being organic certified? Like the treated lumber issue? What other things are too stringent --- can you tell us a few, please? What a shame that such little items make it impossible to be certified! Isn't there a way to rectify them, block them in with impermeable sheeting or something, and get an exception?


I actually mean the opposite-the rules are less stringent with the USDA than with my old certifier ( they have posted the new organic regs on their site if anyone wants to read them) [Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association] . I have been following more stringent rules for years. And I don't believe the enforcement will have any teeth. They can barely cover inspections, much less having inspectors becoming a police force at all farmer's markets and farm stands. At this point in time it is easy to call your stuff organic when you are not certified with no repercussions. I don't see the USDA beefing up enforcement.

My problem with the USDA regs are many. The biggest problems I have are, among others, the composting rules, which make no sense. They want everyone to hot compost for, IIRC, 4 weeks with the pile(s) being turned daily. This is pretty much impossible for the small holder to do without hired help and/or expensive equipment (a tractor with a loader at the very least). If compost is not treated this way than it is considered the same as raw manure. This means the pile you have sitting around that is over 1 year old but was never hot composted would not be useable on a certified organic farm as of Aug. 2002.

The other beef I have is with inspection. In the past the inspector was allowed to give the grower tips on how to make the farm better. if they saw a problem the inspector was allowed to give the farmer ideas on how to correct the problem. No more. The USDA feels that that would be a conflict of interest so now the inspectors can only ask questions and never make suggestions. I feel this will start a culture of secrecy with the organic farmers. The USDA will also not allow any certified organic farmer to sit on any local organic certification board again due to conflict of interest.

I also don't like the fact that organic processed foods will be allowed something like 5% of non organic ingredients in them and will still be able to maintain their organic status.

These rules are being created for the big farms and corporations, not for the small farms that gave birth to the organic movement. This perhaps is my biggest beef of all with the new regulations

So I may not recertify but it's not because the rules are more stringent but rather because they are getting more lax and are written for the big guys not us small holders.

On a positive, note Eliot Coleman is trying to come up with an independent system to "certify" small organic farmers. Right now he is calling it "Authentic Food" and there is a lively discussion on a market farming list (subscription info below) about this movement. Why, one could say that the list is fostering the birth of this new food movement.

To subscribe send a blank email to

subscribe-market-farming at

Get the list FAQ at:

Boulder Belt Organics, Ohio
Lucy Goodman-Owsley, goodows at
November 14, 2001

We have lots of free range chickens that we raise for meat and eggs. Arlo, our Rottweiler mix, has the job of guarding the chickens and the garden from predators and pests. He is looking guilty because he knows he is not supposed to be in the garden areas and is being told "Out of the garden" by me. He sneeks in anyway to be close to his humans and to take a nap while we work. Overall he has been a great dog. He knows not to go into planting beds and takes his guarding job seriously. We feel that he has been responsible for the fact that fewer than 30 chickens in 5 years have been taken by predators and that deer do not do much damage to the garden beds. Dogs can be a very important asset to any farm.

From: "Robert Plamondon" robert at
November 13, 2001
[NOTE: See Robert in our Online Experts]

It's true that earthworms can be an intermediate host for gapeworms, but I don't think this a compelling argument against earthworms.

(The compelling argument against earthworms is that it's probably not worth your time to raise them for chicken feed, with soybeans so cheap. On the other hand, raising them for fishing worms might be lucrative. Not every area is well-served with fresh, vigorous fishing worms.)

Gapeworms, being worms, aren't very mobile, and in many places they simply don't exist, so no precautions need to be taken.

In areas with gapeworms, they're best controlled in the same way as blackhead, with long-term pasture rotation where you always keep the birds on a stretch of ground that hasn't been used in a couple of years. Low stocking density, the use of portable houses, and the plowing of the areas around houses that get a big manure build-up are helpful.

Like blackhead, a farm that's contaminated with gapeworms from corner to corner will force you to give up poultry or raise them in confinement for a couple of years. Without poultry as a terminal host, they won't breed and will eventually die out.

The real issue is range. Earthworms on a range contaminated with blackhead or gapeworms will themselves become contaminated; worms on clean range will not. If you have contaminated range, you'd want to raise both your chickens and your worms in confinement, and start with store-bought worms rather than ones from your own soil.

Since you can't tell how infested the soil is by looking at it, the safest thing to do is to practice range rotation on spec.

From: "Donna Fezler" gcr at
April 18, 2001
[NOTE: See Donna in our Online Experts]

I would have to see this study [Note: this refers to Bayer's own study claiming Advantage to be safe, which dosed dogs and cats three times with excessive doses.] to determine what they described as "no adverse effects." In many of these toxicity studies with no adverse effects, if the animal shows no outward physical signs, it is deemed acceptable even though there may be changes in liver enzymes or cellular conformation.

The typical model for toxicity in rats is a mere 13 weeks. [Note: Donna reported a few days ago --- "I found NO long term toxicity studies or even a decent rat study. I would love to see its effects on birds, but there are no studies."] The rats are challenged at several dosage levels. Depending on who is doing the study and who funds it, the researchers determine the safe level by which animal exhibits physical symptoms or profound blood or cellular changes. Often they are only looking at one issue like precancerous cells and ignoring anything else (if we don't look for it then everything is OK). I would have to read the protocol and the fine print.

The other BIG issue is what kind of diet were these animals on? Standard pet food we get in the store complete with "meat by-products" and rancid fats-poisons in their own right- or the much more rigidly controlled lab animal diet?

These company-funded studies are not available, therefore the conclusions are still suspect. I would put money on the animals developing a thyroid problem or an autoimmune syndrome over time if fed standard grocery store dog food.

Since we have had free range chickens we have had no fleas.

Donna Fezler

Note: We are exploring this issue due to our commitment to health. The chemical that Advantage is composed of is Imidacloprid, which has been used as an insecticide on our fruits and vegetables for years. It attacks the nervous systems of insects, causing death. Many claim it has no adverse effects, while many others are voicing concerns that these effects have not been studied at all thoroughly. Donna found several reports that state that the chemical may cause adverse effects in larger animals. Another entity voicing concern is the official Beet Growers association of England, which states that the safety tests for Imidacloprid are not at all substantial. Another group that is highly concerned about the use of the chemical is the honeybee keepers of France.

Michaele Blakeley, mjb at
Growing Things
Carnation WA
April, 2001

I've used a deep litter system with my birds since I started raising chickens. It's been quite awhile now. Management and maintenance depends upon whether it is a brooder situation or a henhouse.

For my brooder (and I've succussfully brooded up to 300 at a time) I first place a layer of chicken feed sacks on the floor of the brooder (this is a nice carbon start), food is scattered over the sacks for the first day and the chicks peck at that. By the second day it is time to put sawdust down and the feeders go out. Every day when I check on the chicks (am and pm) I look for wet litter. If I find some a scoop or two of sawdust goes over it. As the chicks get older a daily application of sawdust is needed to keep things clean. I never stir the litter and it stays dry, the chicks stay clean and healthy. The added benefit is that as the litter composts it heats the brooder up and I use less heat lamps. All feeders and waterers are set on blocks to keep them off the floor and lessen the chance of litter and feet getting into the water or food. This has to be adjusted as time goes on.

With each new flock, I repeat the same procedure. Eventually, I do have to scoop out some of the litter as the floor gets too high for the lamps.

This system has worked great for me for well over fifteen years. I've never had an outbreak of disease except for once and that was because I had someone taking care of them that did not understand the system. The birds have never been on medicated feed.

I have the brooder in the greenhouse during the fall, winter and early spring. This helps give them sunshine when it is still too cool for outdoors. As they get larger I have a door and a mini ramp for the chicks to come and go and they wander the greenhouse during the day and back into the brooder at night.

For my hens (up to 600) at a time in one house I also use a deep litter system. This never gets turned! In order for a deep litter system to work, the hens need to have a roosting pit over their roosts. The rest of the floor is covered with some sort of litter (I use straw). As the straw decomposes I add another bale. Generally that's a bale of straw every 6 weeks or so, sometimes more. The only maintenance I have is cleaning it out if it floods. Sometimes I don't even do that. Sometimes I put several bales of straw down on the wet littler and throw grain on the straw then let the chickens do the turning. The manure under the pits decomposes on it's own, doesn't smell, and becomes crumbly aged chicken manure that gets added occasionaly to our composts.

This year the litter had gotten over a foot deep and it was time to haul some out. I was able to get enough to cover a new corn area. It was rich beautiful compost. The chickens stay healthy with this system and there have been no diseases.

There are no flies and no ammonia odor. It is basically a very low maintenance and economical way of keeping healthy chickens and making wonderful compost.

As far as waterers are concerned. They are all automatic, but are placed on a wire basket which is placed on sand outdoors. Sand is also put around the waterers on a regular basis. Bacteria cannot grow in sand and that helps eliminate the possibility of spreading disease through the mud that seems inevitable around waterers.

Shirley, there are a couple of diseases that have bloody diarhea. They also have other symptoms. Get the Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow. I have several diagnostic books and hers is the easiest to follow if your in need of a quick answer.

There are two strains of coccidiosis. One can infect chicks at a very young age, the other waits for the chick to be older and will also infect older birds. Don't rule it out just because they aren't the "right age".

From a Google Search of Newsgroups
The most common found antibiotics in poultry, beef, and canned animal foods are: Chlortetracycline, Monensin, Oxytetracycline, Sulfamethazine, and Sulfaquinoxaline. Antibiotics consumed in food over an extended period of time will build up a resistance to that family of antibiotics. If antibiotic treatment is required, the antibiotic may not be able to accomplish its ability to fight of bacterial infection due to the resistance of the immune system...

By Shannon Brownlee
Washington Post
Sunday, May 21, 2000

Lester Crawford was not actually there for the revolution in animal agriculture, but he knows the story so well he might as well have been. The year was 1949, the place was an American Cyanamid plant on the Pearl River, just north of New York City. People had been noticing that the fish swimming downstream from the pharmaceutical plant were larger than average, and chemist Thomas Jukes set out to discover why.

As Crawford tells it, the plant was manufacturing the antibiotic tetracycline, but the process wasn't very efficient. Chemists grew tetracycline-producing mold on a "mash" of grain in giant vats. After extracting only about 5 percent of the drug, they dumped the leftovers into the river.

When Jukes fed the mash to laboratory animals, the results were astonishing: Chicks grew 10 to 20 percent faster than those on plain rations. Piglets did even better. "Mice, chickens, whatever, they grew like crazy," says Crawford. Cyanamid marketed the mash as a feed booster, until Jukes determined that the active ingredient in this magical concoction was the tetracycline itself.

Jukes's discovery--that animals fed low doses of antibiotics grow bigger faster and on less food--enabled millions of farmers to get pigs, poultry and cattle to market weight at less expense, and helped America become the agricultural powerhouse it is today. But there is no free hamburger, it seems, and Jukes's discovery has turned out to have a potentially deadly downside: The more we use antibiotics, the more bacteria evolve into forms that resist them. Which means that farmers are inadvertently helping to create new and potentially deadly strains of food-borne illnesses that can't be cured by many of our best drugs.

Now we are running out of medicines that work. It's time to stop squandering drugs as precious as antibiotics to reduce the price of meat by a few cents a pound.

It's troubling to realize how long these concerns have been around. Crawford, who worked alongside Jukes in the 1960s, was among the scientists who recognized the dangers inherent in adding antibiotics to livestock feed a quarter-century ago. In the mid-'70s he found himself opposing Jukes, spearheading the Food and Drug Administration's first fight to end the use of antibiotics to promote growth in animals. The FDA lost that battle in 1980. Twenty years later, the agency is--ever so tentatively--poised to try again.

This time it has a new weapon: Scientists have finally been able to establish a chain of evidence linking antibiotics in animal feed to a particular human in a hospital bed. Until now, the powerful farm and drug lobbies have been able to exploit the lack of proof to block efforts to restrict the use of antibiotics. That may no longer work. This month, Cathy Woteki--an undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which historically has sided more with the farmers than the FDA--conceded that "antibiotic use in animals contributes to the [antibiotic resistance] problem . . . the agricultural community must accept part of the responsibility."

Scientists have known almost from the moment penicillin was discovered in 1928 that the more an antibiotic is used, the more quickly it becomes useless. Humans and bacteria are locked in a biological arms race: We find a drug; the germs develop resistance; we come up with a newer, more deadly weapon. Sometimes all that's needed is a minor variation on an existing drug. "All antibiotics have a limited window of utility before the bugs catch on," says J. Glenn Morris, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Maryland. "With enough time, bacteria will develop resistance to everything."

That's why doctors are always looking for new drugs--and so are farmers and veterinarians. In 1986, the FDA approved the first of a powerful new class of antibiotics for humans with the tongue-twisting name of fluoroquinolones, capable of replacing old-line antibiotics that could no longer beat the bugs. Only nine years later, in 1995, the FDA gave the go-ahead for veterinarians to begin dosing sick chickens with fluoroquinolones for the same reason: The old drugs no longer worked.

More than a third of the antibiotics sold in the United States--about 18 million pounds a year--wind up on the farm. They are used for three reasons: to treat sick animals; to prevent others housed in confined barns or coops from getting sick, too; and to make the animals grow faster. In terms of volume, most antibiotics are used for the first two reasons. Only 6.1 percent of the drugs goes toward growth promotion.

But in terms of the number of animals affected, the role of growth promotion is huge. That is because growers give antibiotics, in low but daily doses, to entire herds or flocks. Crawford, who is now director of the Georgetown University Center for Food and Nutrition Policy, estimates that 75 percent of the 92 million pigs in this country routinely chow down on feed laced with antibiotics. So do about 6 percent of cattle, 25 percent of chickens and half the turkeys.

With every dose, animals are turned into walking petri dishes, breeding strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As Crawford puts it, "Low doses don't kill off bacteria--they just make them mad." How could the resistant bacteria get from animals to people? The most obvious route would be through raw or undercooked meat. But the idea that a person's infection is resistant because he or she ate an animal that had been fed antibiotics is a lot harder to prove than you might think.

That's why studies like one published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine have shifted the balance of the debate. Public health researchers from the state of Minnesota and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported on bacterial cultures taken over several years from Minnesota residents infected with the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni. Campylobacter lives happily in the guts of animals without a peep. But it wreaks havoc in human beings, causing an estimated 2 million to 8 million cases of gastroenteritis in the United States each year.

Ordinarily, a bout of food poisoning causes little more than diarrhea or vomiting, and maybe a day or two away from work. Antibiotics are needed only if the infection persists or becomes "invasive"--meaning it has moved into the bloodstream. That's when the effectiveness of an antibiotic can mean the difference between life and death. In 1992, the Journal article said, only 1.3 percent of the Minnesota cases were caused by strains of Campylobacter that were resistant to fluoroquinolones. By 1998, the number had risen to 10.2 percent. That's a pretty steep rise, and the researchers determined it was almost certainly because of antibiotic use on farms. Only a small fraction of the patients had ever taken fluoroquinolones themselves; and the genetic strain of resistant bacteria found in a significant number of the samples matched the genetic strain found on a variety of chicken products purchased at local grocery stores. Out of 91 chicken products, 80 were contaminated with Campylobacter. Twenty percent of those bacteria were resistant to ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone that is needed to treat invasive gastroenteritis in humans. ....Then there's DT104, a particularly nasty strain of salmonella that is rampant in Europe and has begun to show up in the United States. DT104 can blow off several antibiotics, and it is twice as likely to land you in the hospital as less virulent strains. The National Chicken Council does not appear to think any of this is a problem. After the Minnesota paper came out, the council issued a press release noting that "properly handled and cooked chicken product would be free of Campylobacter." Fair enough. But by now, most Americans have heard that they are supposed to cook meat until it's charred. ....Whatever the reasons, there are 78 million cases of food-borne illness in this country every year, 5,000 of which are fatal.

Besides, undercooked meat is not the only route bacteria can take from farm to human. Last month, the New England Journal of Medicine reported the case of a 12-year-old boy who came down with a nasty case of salmonella that was resistant to no fewer than 13 antimicrobial agents. ...."We are all in one great big gene pool," says the University of Maryland's Morris. "From the point of view of bacteria, you can't say the hospital, the farm and the community are separate places."....

There are bacteria that can resist practically every antibiotic, and the drug companies have very few new ones ready for market. There are only so many ways you can attack bacteria, since they are simple organisms with few moving parts. In the past five years, the FDA has approved exactly two really new antibiotics (a handful of others were approved, but they were variations on existing drugs). One of them, Synercid, at first seemed to be something of a wonder drug--it can treat strains of bacteria that are resistant to vancomycin, one of the most powerful antibiotics now in use.

But Synercid's days may already be numbered because a closely related drug has been used on animals since 1974. Bugs that are resistant to that antibiotic, it turns out, are also resistant to Synercid. ...The highest rates of resistant bacteria are found in middle-class suburbanites... But while patients and doctors can learn not to abuse antibiotics, consumers don't have much choice about how their meat is raised.

Where has the FDA been in all this? When it lost the fight against antibiotics in feed in 1980, Congress wrote language into an appropriations bill threatening to suspend the agency's funding if it persisted in its attempts to limit the agricultural use of antibiotics. Now, the FDA is ready to try again, and this time there's reason to hope it might just pull it off. The agency has the backing of the CDC and the World Health Organization; last month [i.e., April, 2000] the General Accounting Office released a study of antibiotic use in agriculture recommending that the FDA and other federal agencies work together to come up with a sensible plan.

The FDA has already done that. What it proposes is a ranking of new and existing antibiotics according to their importance to human health. Drugs like the fluoroquinolones and Synercid would be in the most protected class, restricted to human use. Other drugs could be given to sick animals or to prevent disease among animals, but not put into feed for growth promotion. The third class of drugs, which have little value to human medicine, such as the topical ointment Bacitracin, could be widely available to farmers.

The agency is moving very slowly, trying to forge a consensus between public health officials on the one hand and industry on the other. Already drug companies are getting the message. "We're not seeing many companies coming in with applications for [low-dose antibiotics] use any more," says Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine. "I think they realize the regulatory hurdles are going to be higher because they are exposing a lot more animals to the drug." Others who have gone through the antibiotic wars are not so sure. "The industry is very powerful," says Abigail Salyers, a microbiologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Unless they go along to some extent, the fight could be ugly." But not nearly as ugly as the possibility that researchers like Crawford fear most--the possibility that in the fight between bacteria and antibiotics, the bugs will one day get the upper hand.

Shannon Brownlee is a freelance writer specializing in health and science.

32) TRUER WORDS: I'm saying that "Those who love sausage or the law shouldn't watch either one being made" could be extended to [poultry] breeding, as well.

----- Robert Plamondon

31) ORGANIC OR ... ?
Thu, 1 Feb 2001
"Robert Plamondon" robert at

My beef about the organic movement is that it started out as a producer movement centered around healthy, productive soil, and somewhere along the way it seems to have mutated into a consumer movement centered around the fear of chemicals.

I'm an adherent of the first school of thought. If you focus on healthy, productive soil, you're not going to have much use for chemicals. Pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers tend to kill off earthworms and soil microbes, which are the organisms you rely upon to keep your farm productive. So this whole class of chemicals strikes you as being irrelevant, and you rarely find a circumstance where using them makes any sense at all.

The thing that's wrong with conventional agriculture isn't what it does to the FOOD, it's what it does to the LAND. Not much of the chemicals end up in the food to trouble the consumer. It stays on the land, poisoning the environment -- and the farmers.

Somewhere I read a blurb on the advantages of sustainable agriculture. A farmer was quoted as saying, "A couple of years after switching to sustainable methods, the songbirds came back to my farm." His chemical use had killed countless songbirds and other creatures, but he probably doesn't deserve credit for killing a single consumer. The land is taking most of the punishment.

I met a worker at a local testing lab at a Farmer's Market. She told me that they rarely detect pesticide residues in any food samples.

The food that comes from conventional agriculture, though far from tasty and not as nutritious as it ought to be, isn't bad when you consider the price. Food is amazingly cheap these days. The average consumer only spends 10% of his income on food, and that includes processed and convenience foods. In 1950 it was something like 25% of income, and apparently it was a whopping 50% of income in the 1920s. Not surprisingly, nutritional deficiencies were common in the 1920s, stunting or crippling millions of children.

When selling eggs at the farmers' market, I'm continually meeting consumers whose beliefs about poultry consist largely of someone's self-serving lies. I'm constantly being asked about hormones. The only hormone that was ever used to any great extent in poultry (DES) was banned in the U.S. the year I was born. They look at misleading pictures on other people's egg cartons and are convinced that the eggs come from free-range hens, when in fact they are kept in close confinement. They're convinced that hens are kept under bright, 24-hour light and lay eggs until they die of exhaustion.

People are making money on these lies. They're pushing their slick magazines, soliciting contributions for their animal-welfare organizations, or selling their crappy confinement eggs on the basis of these lies. It really, REALLY bugs me. And they're focusing the attention of the consumer on a total fantasy rather than on the miserable state of the land.

I'm a lot more concerned about the land than I am about, say, food safety, which I consider to be pretty good, considering. My current theory is that the ordinary feed ingredients available on the market are more than adequate as chicken feed, provided that the chickens also have access to pasture. Pasture seems to be the critical ingredient. Our broilers seem to be tastier when raised on lush spring pasture than dry summer pasture, for instance.

On the topic of, "Where does quality come from?" it certainly seems that pasture quality is more important to the taste of broilers and eggs than details of the mixed ration. We use very ordinary feed that probably isn't any better than what Foster Farms or Willamette Egg use, but our broilers and eggs taste far better than theirs. We have customers who have switched from certified-organic confinement-chicken eggs who insist that our eggs are the best they've ever tasted. So I guess that certified-organic feed doesn't guarantee good flavor. We've had similar comments about the broilers, including one gourmet customer who compared them favorably to anything he'd encountered in a gastronomic tour of France. This strikes me as evidence that it's not the contents of the feed sack that's the critical element, but pasture quality. To my way of thinking, this is great news, since it helps keep me focused the land.

If I were more politically inclined, I suppose I'd try to buy only grains from politically correct growers, but the fact is that I believe in the inevitability of sustainable agriculture. I believe that it can produce grain just as cheaply as conventional agriculture -- in the long term, more cheaply. It will take cheap sustainable grain to pound the stake into the heart of chemical agriculture. Since I don't believe that certified organic grain will make my eggs taste any better, and I don't think my customers will be eager to pay for the extra time and expense it would entail, I don't buy it.
-- Robert

36475 Norton Creek Rd, Blodgett OR 97326
Voice: (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139
Free-range poultry site:


31) PASTURED POULTRY AUTHOR RE-EXAMINES SYSTEM [See Andy's wonderful post, "Pastured Poultry FAQ" in our Pastured Poultry section.]

Wed, 23 Feb 2000
"Andy Lee & Pat Foreman" Goodearth at

Hello fellow list members,

After re-reading the FAQ I've decided I can no longer support pasture poultry as being environmentally sensitive, economically viable or socially just, at least not in the way it is being practiced now.

If we are using twice as much land to grow grain, that's not ecologically defensible. If we are putting our chickens in minimal shelter during all kinds of weather, that's not humane. If we are working our butts off to make this sort of system work, then that's not sustainable.

In my book CHICKEN TRACTOR, I repeated the "30% feed savings on pasture" myth. I regret that, and I will print a retraction in the next issue.

This coming season I will do my own research, on my own farm, so that I know what I am talking about and can speak the truth in the future. I know it is possible to design a pasture-based poultry system that is more sustainable that what I am doing now. If any of you have ideas to share please let me know.

Andy Lee

31b) Response from PasturePoultry at listmember

Wed, 23 Feb 2000
Oak Moon Farm knorek at

Hi Andy,

Quite a bombshell! I must admit having my enthusiasm temporarily dampened, but after some serious pondering, I must respectfully disagree on your points:

> If we are using twice as much land to grow grain, that's not ecologically
> defensible.

I assume your are saying that for one acre of grain grown, one acre of pasture is required to run it through chickens (when the grain is used for poultry feed). I do not know enough to argue this point. I will assume that it is correct, for the sake of this discussion. In absolute terms, it may not be a defensible practice. However, relatively speaking, it is infinitely better (environmentally-wise) to raise poultry on pasture than in confinement. The system may need to be tweaked to make it a absolute statement, but we are on our way.

> If we are putting our chickens in minimal shelter during all kinds of
> weather, that's not humane.

Chickens only require minimal shelter. Granted, we suffer from routine extremes in weather, and the chickens suffer also. However, a pasture raised chicken (with minimal shelter) is still in a more humane environment than its confinement cousins.

> If we are working our butts off to make this sort of system work, then
> that's not sustainable.

I know of no business where one can succeed without working one's butt off. This includes farming! Working one's self to the point of exhaustion, family and marital stress, etc., is another matter. It is very easy to design a pastured poultry model that leads to the latter. Our challenge is to focus on optimizing the return for working our butts off, but only after we have thought the process through...over and over again. And a continuing challenge is to modify the process after learning from our mistakes (and the mistakes of others).

Andy, the points that you make are valid, in both absolute terms and relative terms. However, they must be taken in the following context...pastured poultry systems, for their shortcomings, are still infinitely better than the industrial confinement model currently being foisted on the environment and the consumer!!!

Do we need to do better? YES!

Can we do better? YES!

Should we give up? NO!!!!!!

Wow, and I thought that this was going to be a routine day! Thank you, Andy, for this opportunity for introspection.



Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000
From: Jeff Mattocks - jeff at
[NOTE: See Jeff in our Online Experts section]
Milo, Millet, and Sorghum grains are a very good feed for laying hens (only). These grains tend to be high in tannins which are Polyphenols. The bottom line is that these tannins can and will decrease body weight gains in young developing poultry. I would recommend not to exceed 30% of the prepared grain mix with these types of grains.
Developing Poultry
None of these grains should be used for developing poultry unless protein adjustments are made. They should not be used in conjunction with other small grains in the same mix.

If you have additional question please feel free to ask. You may also contact at:
The Fertrell Co.
Ph: 800-347-1566
Jeff Mattocks


Michaele Blakely mjb at
Feb. 18, 2000

This is a flock started in August and pretty dry.

> 150 chicks 97.00
> 250 lbs. broiler starter 53.95
> 900 lbs. broiler grower 190.26
> 500 lbs. broiler finisher 98.50
> processing at 16 per hr. at $20.00/hr 156.20
> packing at 32 per hr. at $20.00/hr 78.00
Total 673.91
125 birds at 5.5lb at 2.35 lbs 928.13

> These birds were on pasture, but allowed free-range during the last 3 weeks to forage. I have larger and healthier flocks when on cover crops, a mixture of oats, legumes, and vetch seems to be preferred by the birds, and Dutch clover is next.

So food conversion is 1lb meat to 2.6lb feed. It is organic feed. Nothing else is added.


Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000
From: "Donna Fezler" gcr at
[NOTE: See Donna in our Online Experts]

Probiotics introduce the good bacteria and may be used without worry of infection. I don't know of any good studies but I do use it, especially in stress conditions which will precede a parasite infestation I still would wash my hands because any bacteria can be a problem in the wrong place.

I have lots of room, feed garlic (it is also high in selenium which is an immune booster and a natural antibacterial and antiviral), and use DE. [Diatomaceous Earth] The DE definitely controls flies. We know the difference in less than a week.

Ivermectin has been shown to be toxic to rheas and ostriches so I don't have that choice and the chickens eat what the rheas eat. I strongly believe that the bugs are opportunists looking for a free lunch. Hexane extracted soy meal appears (no double blind study) to cause the breakdown of the baby rheas' intestinal wall which provides the free fatty acids the protozoan need. I worked for 3 years on that problem before I realized I had to stop treating the parasite and start boosting the immune system.

The toxin detoxification competes with the rebuilding mechanism for the available sulfur. If there isn't enough the body can't rebuild fast enough and the area under assault (in this case the intestinal wall) breaks down. Once that happens the cell debris itself becomes a toxin and something has to clean it up. These is where the parasites thrive. Keep the gut intact with a stress-free environment, essential fatty acids, and ample supplementation and/or fresh wholesome food and the parasites won't be able to compete with the good flora.


Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000
From: "Donna Fezler" gcr at

These birds are actually for an experiment comparing free range eggs and grocery store eggs as food. I already know that in baby rheas we get turned legs and other leg problems when I use grocery store eggs. This will be a controlled study, and I wanted to use half Cornish cross because of all its inherent growth problems and also a hardier chicken. I still want something worth eating at the end of the study.



Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999
From: "Robert Plamondon" robert at

RE: Day Range> Pasture pens means the birds live in a small (typically> 10x12-foot) pen that> is moved to a fresh spot each day or twice a day. The advantages are the> 100% coverage of ground for graze and manure spreading, the relatively low> cost per pen, the almost 100% protection from predators, and the lack of> need for perimeter fencing of any kind. The detriments are the amount of> labor required to carry water and feed to the birds once or twice, or even> three times daily, and the moving of the pen. The pens are bulky,> birds get> crushed, backs get thrown out, tempers get frayed, and the older> we get, or > the steeper our land, the less we like moving those darn pens so> often.

We don't have any of these problems. Some points:

1. A 10x12 pen is too large. An 8x8 pen is easier to move, can be built outof cheaper materials, and all the lumber can be put in a full-sized pickupwith the tailgate up.

2. The pens are hard to move and crush birds because they're designed wrong.The front and back walls should be ON TOP OF the skids, not dragging on theground. As soon as the back wall is off the ground, the pens become easy tomove. As soon as the back wall is off the ground, the birds no longer getcrushed. to keep them from popping out, extending the chicken wire down toground level works, but a better plan is to hem a chain into a plastic tarpand use it as a weighted curtain across the gap. You could convert existingchicken tractors by nailing a two-by-four at the bottom of two of the sidesto create skids, and then doing something to keep the birds from poppingout. This would raise the front and back by only 1 1/2", which really isn'tenough (to my way of thinking), but it would convince you.

3. Hills are good. It's easier to move pens downhill than up. We start atthe top with chicks and move the pen down the hill by hand with theassistance of gravity. When the pens are empty, we pull them uphill by tractor. But our pens are easy enough to move that there's no problemmoving them uphill if we get to the bottom before the birds are ready toprocess.4. Carrying water is too time-consuming. It almost always can be avoided.1/4" O.D. drip tubing is cheap and very strong. We have a stock tank at thetop of our hill that we fill from a tank in our pickup truck once a week.We have a feeder system of 1/2" poly tubing going to garden hose or driptubing. Not having a water bucket on the house makes the house easier tomove, and the birds are healthier now that they never run out of water. Ifthere's always water, they never fight over it. Nobody should carry wateraround in buckets. If you don't have a convenient hill, all you need is aplatform elevated to a height a couple of feet greater than that of achicken tractor -- or a pump.

And,> if you are growing any significant number of birds you will need a lot of> these pens, so suddenly the cost adds up to quite a bit. Also, birds get> smothered, get wet and chilled and die, or die of heat stress, and they> often die from mechanical injury during pen moves. I can always tell the> carcass of a pen raised broiler by the scratches on its back or the breast> blister.My impression is that pastured poultry growers often use grossly inadequatefeeder space and this almost forces them to skimp on feed. The standard inindustry (which uses expensive automatic feeders and would skimp on them ifthey could) is three inches of feeder space per bird up to seven weeks, andfour inches thereafter. Given a trough that the birds can use both sidesof, that's eight birds per foot to seven weeks and six birds per footafterwards. A 90-bird house should have three to four four-foot troughs,yet I keep hearing of people trying to get by with only one!

The other issue is the amount of feed. If you see an empty trough, youdon't know whether you underfed the birds by one grain or ten pounds.Empty troughs are bad news. You can keep the birds grossly underfed andthey will look healthy, but only the ones at the top of the pecking orderwill grow at a normal rate. The rest will be runts. And of course underfeeding leads to fighting at the feed trough. We never see scratches when processing our birds. We've only seen one carcass bruised by tractordamage (from our tractor with the too-low skids), and three or four breastblisters. In my opinion, if one addresses these problems, day ranging has noadvantages for broiler growers. Your big gains were in the hose-fed watererand the long feeder. I don't think the yard buys you anything at all.

-- Robert--Robert Plamondon * High-Tech Technical Writing36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett OR 97326541-453-5841 * Fax: 541-453-4139mailto:robert at *


From: "Michaele Blakely" mjb at, Feb.8


I've also experimented with various mixes, some work well, others don't. I view the fields in beds rather than acres, and since I don't use a tractor, large root mass is a difficult one. I tried rye and it was tough. Two combinations I've found very successful have been oats, field peas, and vetch planted in late fall. It pretty much sits but begins growth about now, and is ready for birds to be out on it in March. We can then till and plant a few weeks later. The birds love the oats, and vetch, leave the peas alone. I figure the peas are going for the soil only, that's okay. The other combo is to use white clover under broccoli. I discovered quite by accident that in my fields at least the cabbage butterfly is confused when white clover is planted under brassicas. (great habitats for slugs however, out come the ducks, they don't like broccoli). Once the broccoli is done the stalks are cut and the birds start munching. Clover is expensive, but in small areas up to 1000 sq feet, and I think this system works well.
Growing Things
Carnation WA



From: "Robert Plamondon" robert at, Feb.8

A lot of the nutritional information is still coming from the poultry specialists at the land-grant colleges, so the place to start is to call your local extension service and find out who that person is. In about six far-western States, it's Jim Hermes at Oregon State University.

The way the feed mills do it, poultry nutrition is pretty easy. The simplest method is to take corn, soybean oil meal, feed-grade limestone, feed-grade rock phosphate, a packet of commercial vitamin/mineral premix, a packet of refined methionine to make up for the amino acid deficiencies of the corn, mix, and voila! chicken feed. For medicated feed, you toss in the packet of medication.

The actual mixing procedure is a little more complicated than this, but the recipe isn't. You can make it more exciting by adding grains other than corn and using byproducts. There's software that you can use to dial in the prices of every available feedstuff and get a least-cost mix. The software remembers all the rules, such as poultry not liking rye and turning up their noses if you put in more than a couple of percent of rye in the mix, or consumers not liking fishy tastes in their poultry products, so you shouldn't put in more than two or three percent of fish meal.

I don't know if this software is available for free (it probably is, because it's the sort of thing the universities would crank out).

I know that a lot of people point fingers at commercial feed, but I don't understand what the big deal is. Salatin claims that vitamin/mineral premixes are a bad thing, but he never says why. I eat vitamin/mineral premixes myself (called a "multivitamin with mineral supplement pill") on the supposition that they're good for me.

Did y'all get your APPPA GRIT in the mail? The nutritional analysis of the pastured poultry was fascinating, and in most respects the results were even better than I expected. But I was concerned that the iron and calcium levels in the carcasses were low. Maybe they're low in the diet?

-- Robert



From Brian Moyer, Feb.8,
Email: BrianM22 at

We have thus far only done this as a trial last fall with one of the CSA's. Here's what we did, the farmer at the CSA put up a list to sign up for chicken and eggs to be delivered the first week of the month. Then, he called me at the end of the month and gave me the number of chickens and eggs to bring. When I delivered them, he payed me my money and collected his from his subscribers. It seemed to work pretty well so we will doing that this year. This year will be the true test because we only did it for one month because it was the end of the season when we got this idea.

I think we have a couple things going for us.

1) I get my money when I deliver so there is an incentive for the CSA farmer to sell the chickens and eggs or he is stuck with them.

2) both CSA's hold "field days" in the spring so subscribers and interested households can come to the farm to check it out. They have invited me to come with a demonstration pen to explain how we raise our chickens and to answer any questions the shareholders might have.

3) CSA's and pastured poultry are becoming more and more popular here in the Northeast and this might be a slight advantage over your part of the country but that is just a guess.

Brian Moyer


From: "Robert Plamondon" robert at, Feb.8

> From: "Pamela Marshall" caiplichhorses at

> > Interesting! I just got 2 old books on raising turkeys (pub 1898
> and 1922),
> both recommended feeding charcoal - one says "for digestive troubles" -
> neither say anything about using it for worms. The "remedies" that they
> suggest for worms are scarey - including kerosene, tobacco, and alum -
> although another "good" suggestion is to feed garlic and onions
> (Wonder if the birds come pre-flavored after this diet????!!)

Garlic and onions are both supposed to give an unpleasant taste to meat and eggs.

> Both also suggest using black pepper (one also suggests red pepper and
> ginger) for respiratory ailments - the suggestion os to "season" the feed
> with pepper once or twice a week, esp in damp weather. Anyone know about
> this??

This is pure snake oil. It's based on the old theory of "counter-irritants," which pretty much concluded that adding insult to injury speeds the healing process. Thus, if chickens aren't laying, we'll add condiments to their food that, in people, cause a burning sensation both going in and coming out, hoping to stimulate the chickens' behinds. For respiratory problems, we'll give them things that make them sneeze and wheeze.

The charcoal is a different kind of idiocy, based on the idea that illness is caused by "bad air," and that charcoal is known to absorb gases. (Also, a lot of people believed that all ills were caused by digestive upset, and that laxatives or other digestive hocus-pocus were miracle cures, so you get two old wives' tales for the price of one.) A lot of people kept using charcoal even after it was proven ineffective because there didn't seem to be a downside, and their belief comforted them. Then people discovered vitamins and everybody instantly abandoned charcoal because they were afraid that it would absorb vitamins and cause deficiency diseases.

If you read enough of the old stuff you start seeing the pattern of health fads. The trend towards open-front houses happened at the same time as the open-air and sleeping-porch movement for human houses, which itself was a way of trying to avoid tuberculosis. (But it turned out that open-front houses were a good idea.)

Tobacco and kerosene are too toxic to the birds to be really practical. Garlic, onions, and vinegar probably won't hurt the birds (unless you put vinegar in galvanized waterers, which will give them zinc poisoning.) Does it work? Who knows? Who cares? Folk practices survive because people would rather believe their aged neighbor with the flock of sickly chickens than all the experts in the world.

-- Robert


From: Aaron Silverman cgrowers at
Creative Growers, Noti, Oregon
Feb 7

We raise about 2,000 pastured broilers, and 3 acres of mixed produce & cut flowers. Chickens are run on an acre of the market area from May through the middle of June, then moved to pasture for the rest of the season. The section the birds are run on is seeded with a cover crop tailored for grazing.

We have experimented with several mixes, including straight white clover, oats/annual rye/field peas, oats/cereal rye/annual rye, and a mix of all the above. Cover crops must be chosen that are palatable to the birds, and can withstand (or even enhanced by) mowing. Pure clover had the best results for the chickens, requiring no mowing and producing lots of succulent growth. However, for a short-season cover crop, clover is just too expensive at $80-$90 per 50lb bag. Peas & oats had great growth, and performed well in the beginning of the season, but was difficult to keep at grazing height. We thought the birds would eat the succulent peas, but merely tromped on them instead.

We've now settled on mixes of grains & annual rye, for several reasons. This type of mix can be either grazed by other animals early in the spring to maintain grazing height, or mowed. Either treatment may stimulate the grains to "tiller"out, enhancing root growth & additional leaf growth. Cereal rye has some alleleopathic effects on weed seeds, diminishing their ability to germinate. This type of mix may also be established much later in the season, an important aspect in a climate that often sees little precipitation during the growing season until well into October when light levels are much diminished.

After the birds are phased onto the pasture, the ground is mowed and disked. A portion of the section may be planted with winter squash/pumpkins with little additional fertility (depending on overall fertility levels). The remaining ground is cultivated through July & early August, treating it as a bare fallow. Beds are formed and overwintering coles (b-sprouts, kale, etc) and garlic are planted in the remaining area. Recent research has suggested that microbial activity is enhanced with cover crops allowed to go to a slightly more carbonaceous phase than normally grown. A small section of chicken ground is allowed to go to seed after the birds are removed each year, disked and rolled later in the fall than the fallowed ground. This has been sufficient to reseed the strip, often with a lusher and thicker stand than the rest of the field. As we bring more ground into cultivation, a larger section may be allowed to reseed each year.

Although the chickens do provide nitrogen, phosphorus, & calcium, they are only a part of our overall fertility program. Birds are generally rotated to sections that have seen multiple croppings for the past 2 years (every section sees birds a minimum of once every 3 years).


Creative Growers
Aaron Silverman
88741 Torrence Rd.
Noti, Or. 97461
Quality Produce & Pastured Poultry


From: "Robert Plamondon" robert at
Feb. 7:
Another clean-egg trick was devised by the University of Washington way back when. They replaced the perches on the nest boxes with shallow trays, a few inches wide, that they filled with powdered gypsum. This would coat the hens' feet and keep the mud from wiping off onto the eggs. I've made half-hearted experiments with this, and it seems to work. Diatomaceous earth would probably work just as well as powdered gypsum, and kill mites at the same time.


From: "Pamela Marshall" caiplichhorses at

Out in the pastures ... they work together well - chickens eat the broad leaved thinks that horses sometimes aviod, eat the bugs, spread the manure to where the parasites are killed by the sun rays, and eat the grains that the horses did't digest.

Our hens are in the portable house that they summered in - around November, we moved the house into the pasture where my two weanling foals are - it is enclosed with diamond mesh fencing which will keep most critters at bay and keeps the hens in. The house is at one end, with a 2 strand electric tape sectioning off their end from the foals so they can have a "safe" area. The foals ignore them mostly though, and the chickens happily race to the run-in shed in the mornings to see what goodies the foals have left for them. Also have 2 pens of turkeys (trio of slates and a bourbon red tom) sectioned off there too with hog panels to keep them seperate. This is a bit hodge podge this year, as we are still fencing (Not right now though - 14" of snow on the ground!), barn building, and constructing pens - next year I hope to have each "group" of chickens or turkeys in seperate paddocks with the horses in the winter...they make excellent "poop patrollers" which keeps the parasite load of the horses way could do this with any livestock as long as the exterior fence was chicken/predator proof...

Seldom Seen Farm in Amenia, NY
My mind is like lightning - one brilliant flash and it's gone!


Oban, Argyll, Scotland
Our birds range over permanent pasture. We move the houses regularly to keep them on fresh grazing all the time. First thing in the morning they are let out of the houses - they spend a few hours grazing and chasing bugs. Gradually they go back inside to lay and top up with layers meal which is available ad lib. Over the middle of the day they carry on laying, dust bathing, exploring the fields and on good days sunbathing. In the middle of the afternoon we feed a wheat feed outside. This allows us to encourage them to investigate certain areas of their surroundings and is a valuable feed supplement. We also collect eggs, top up feed and check all the hens. In the height of the laying season and on hot days we will have collected in the morning as well.

Jan. 25, 2000 "...wheat is only a scratch for productive hens and youngstockfor layers and youngstock to be fed properly they need the correct balancedfeedsI know a few 'organic' backyarders only feed wheat but that would not givehigh production, and free range eggs are a marginal enough product withoutgetting a decent yield. Young hens would 'do' but not well.So - any organic producers out therefor once - PLEASE advertise even if it is privately to one of us and we willpass it on.


Feb. 5, 2000
** A farmer goes out one day and buys a brand new stud rooster to copulate with his chickens. The farmer puts the rooster straight in the pen so he can get down to business. The young rooster walks over to the old rooster and says "OK, old fellow, time to retire." The old rooster says, "You can't handle all these chickens....look at what it did to me!" The young rooster replies, "Now, don't give me a hassle about this. Time for the old to step aside and the young to take over, so take a hike." The old rooster says, "Aw, c'mon.....just let me have the two old hens over in the corner. I won't bother you," The young rooster says, "Scram! Beat it! You're washed up! I'm taking over!" So, the old rooster thinks for a minute and then says to the young rooster, "I'll tell you what, young fellow, I'll have a race with you around the farmhouse. Whoever wins the race gets domain of the chicken oop. And if I'm so feeble, why not give me a little head start? The young rooster says, "Sure, why not, you know I'll still beat you," They line up in back of the farmhouse, get a chicken to cluck "Go!" and the old rooster takes off running. About 15 seconds later the young rooster takes off after him. They round the front of the farmhouse and the young rooster is only about 5 inches behind the old rooster and gaining fast. The farmer, sitting on the porch, looks up, sees what's going on, grabs his shotgun and BOOM!, he blows the young rooster to KFC heaven. He shakes his head gloomily and says "***** of a ******* ...third gay rooster I bought this week!"

Thanks to Topaz for this!

The next issue of APPPA Grit is going in the mail tomorrow. Its a 20-page issue, highlights include results of a SARE project that looked at nutritional analysis of pastured poultry, highlights of the presentations at the annual meeting, minutes from the annual meeting, and the last two conference calls of the board of directors. There's also articles on poultry labeling, brooder management, pp expansion in the new millennium and many other tidbits of information! A subscription to APPPA is $20.
Diane --- American Pastured Poultry Producers Assn
5207 70th St, Chippewa Falls WI 54729
715 - 723-2293
grit at

Jan. 15, 2000
I've uploaded a text file to the upload/download area of our website It's called wormeries.txt and contains info that I put together from various e-mail / ng postings. Some of the info is 'strictly' wormery stuff, other relates to chickens & wormeries. Hope it is of some use. I've put in a link at to Kim's excellent chicken website. Cheers, Ute


Jan 28, 2000
From: mayorsson1 at
Hello Folks, Here's a Joel Salatin layer ration from '98, for 1 ton of feed.

Roasted soy beans 617#
Ground corn 596#
Cracked corn 398#
Crimped oats 219#
Feed grade limestone 99#
Nutri-balancer 60#
Kelp meal 11#

Here in NC I don't have access to roasted soybeans, so I will substitute soybean meal, a soybean oil and alfalfa meal. My wheat prize will replace the crimped oats, so there is the possibility of their lower protein content being offset by the inclusion of alfalfa meal. I had thought of using a probiotic and possibly some DE. Another producer topdressed their layer ration with aragonite for available calcium. In the past I have used a broiler ration, which uses Sea-Lac fish meal to boost protein, and the layers ate and produced well. I say that "prize wheat makes a tasty treat, and that the price can't be beat!" Any new rhymes or feed recipes anyone? Edward.



From: "Farm Dad" Jan 26, 2000 farmdad at

Diatomacious earth is THE natural remedy of choice for worming. Why use harsh drugs on your birds when DE is quite effective and has been used successfully for many years by organic folks.

Last spring I found some worms in the feces of a recently purchased hen. I used DE in the feed (at 0.5% rate) for a few days. I found no other worms and the eggs increased in size markedly.

Food grade DE is the only type that should be used. NEVER use DE ment for swimming pool filters. It is a different size.

I know of several sources of DE in different parts of the US. I will have to check my file at home - if anyone is interested.



From: Bentoak398 at, Jan. 26, 2000

The old Navy Chief finally retired and got that chicken ranch he always wanted. He took with him his life-long pet parrot.

First morning at 0430, the parrot squawked loudly and said, "Reveille, Reveille. Up all hands. Heave out and trice up. The smoking lamp is lighted, now Reveille." The old chief told the parrot, "We are no longer in the Navy. Go back to sleep."

The next morning, the parrot did the same thing. Chief told the parrot, "If you keep this up, I'll put your ass out in the chicken pen." Again the parrot did it, and true to his word, the Chief put the parrot in the chicken pen.

About 0630 the morning after that, the Chief was awakened by one heck of a ruckus in the chicken pen. He went out to see what was the matter. The parrot had about 40 white chickens at attention in formation, and on the ground lay 3 bruised and beaten brown chickens. The parrot was saying, "By God, when I say fall out in dress whites, I don't mean Khakis!"


From: "Argall Family" Dec. 21, 1999

I wrote:
> Just to make the point that chicken manures should be composted
> to be really
> healthy for plants. The combination of droppings with straw or other
wood > litter is valuable, indeed essential, because it assists in
> getting a better carbon-nitrogen ratio.

Robert then wrote: "This doesn't make any sense to me, especially not on permanent pasture. Pasture plants can metabolize the more available nitrogen compounds directly, and many of them can probably do so through foliar feeding, grabbing nutrients through their leaves before the manure actually works its way down into contact with the soil. I don't see why it's better for manure to be predigested through composting, rather than hitting the ground straight from the chicken's butt..."

Indeed, plants can take up available inorganic nutrients in solution, otherwise we would not have a chemical fertiliser industry, let alone a hydroponic industry. But do the little experiment. Buy a hydroponic lettuce and a genuinely organically grown lettuce [i.e. grown in soil and not pushed with chemical fertilizer or raw manures] and put them in the fridge in separate bags, side by side for a month. You may then be able to eat the organic lettuce, but the hydroponic lettuce is more likely to have turned into the missed step - compost.

Hydroponics produces such splendid growth so swiftly especially because the delivery of the salts to plant cells leaves them with a need for water which they take up as best they can - with more salts, then more growth. But I very much doubt the relative food value of this force fed plant. I do know people who get headaches from the heavy nitrogen loads they have (amine headaches, like people get when they use nitroglycerine tablets for angina).

It is a question of whether you take a bag chemical perspective of plant nutrition, or whether you look at the more normal relationship between plant and soil, including the role of clay microcrystals and coacervates, humic acids, mycorrhizal fungi, bacteria and other diverse soil micro and macro organisms. If we take the fact that a spoonful of healthy soil contains as many individual organisms as the human population of the planet (the size of the spoon is shifting as people increase in number and soils degrade), and note that this level of activity in the soil tends to decline as treatment with chemical fertilisers (I would include raw manures) rises, then we see an issue. You take your choice about what you do about it. My view is that not only are plants healthier but soil structures are sounder and less vulnerable to erosion, etc, if we work on raising soil health rather than just dumping feed on plants.

As regards this point: "I don't see why it's better for manure to be predigested through composting, rather than hitting the ground straight from the chicken's butt..."

I think the issue is how many chickens on how much ground. If you can convince yourself that the chooks are not crowded and they move elsewhere soon enough - then the soil is likely to be sound enough to make good use of the manure, and swiftly. But shovel and barrow loads are another matter.

The basic issue of chemical v. organic nutrition goes back to the impact of Liebig on agricultural chemistry in the 19th century. Sir Albert Howard, whose experiments in India with composting had a big impact on the organic movement, wrote of Liebig:

"there was a kind of superb arrogance in the idea that we only had to put the ashes of a few plants in a t4est tube, analyse them, and scatter back into the the soil equivalent quantities of dead minerals. It is true that the plants are the supreme, the only agents capable of converting the inorganic materials of nature into the organic; that is their great function, their justification, if we like to use the word. But it was expecting altogether too much of the vegetable kingdom that it should worko nly in this crude, brutal way" [quoted at p 141, Walters and Fenzau, An Acres USA Primer, Kansas City 1979, 1992]

It is interesting that the pesticide industry relies on plants' absorption of complex organic molecules for systemic poisons, while the fertiliser industry downplays and its products diminish the role of complex organic molecule transfer from soil to plants.



From: "Bill and Judy Decker" --- anagenao at --- Dec. 15, 1999


Has anyone on the list ever investigated the use of sunflower seeds, whole, as a protein component for pastured broilers? We were wondering if the gizzard would open the hull. Actually, we were also wondering if the broilers would even know to eat them!

Thanks in advance, Judy Decker

William and Judy Decker Renaissance Farms Ltd Emporia, KS


From: "Robert Plamondon" --- robert at --- Dec. 17, 1999


> Has anyone read anything QUANTIFIED on the levels of > pollutants in the ocean, and where the samples have been taken? > Email me if you have info, please, tractionpads at

>Kim Salisbury

I haven't been paying attention to these issues, but that's the sort of thing marine biologists do. There should be at least 30 years of research on the topic kicking around. If you're near a univeristy with an oceanography department, going to the library and asking for help from one of the librarians should bury you in information. If kelp is a major product in a given area, the extension service will probably have someone who's up to speed on it, too.

-- Robert


From: Roger Post --- RogerPost at --- Dec. 17, 1999


I think the idea of putting them together in a new space is a good one. The problem with putting one new chickens in with a established group is that they all attack at once. If you can put several new birds in together in a large area or outdoors is better. I understand that putting the new birds in just at dusk when the birds are going to roost is a good idea. That way they have all night to get used to the idea but can not see well enough to fight. They will wake up in the morning having spend the night together. However, I would suggest you be around when they wake up just in case. Pecking order is not just something that was made up. Every chicken who lives with other chickens has his or her place in the pecking order. They had to fight or bluster to get that place. When you put a new bird in all of the other birds want to make sure this new bird comes below them in the picking order. If they have enough room so the new bird can get away from the crowd then they will work this all out. If not they may kill the newcomer. It usually does not take long. There will always be one bird that no other bird can peck and one bird that every other bird can peck. That is the way they are, and you are not going to change that. Once the order is established the one on the bottom is not usually in any real danger physically. mentally she may be a wreck.


From: "Robert Plamondon" --- robert at


>The "crimped" corn is run through a crusher compared to the ground corn that >is finely ground. Joel thinks the crimped is more palatable (not eating >"dust" exclusively) Larger birds do fine on whole corn, which also keeps better. The last time we bought crimped corn it was moldy. I've never seen that with whole corn.

When you use ground grain in a mash ration, it should be a coarse grind, to get rid of dustiness, increase palatability, and reduce the time spent in the grinder.

One thing people ought to consider is having the feed mill turn your feed into pellets instead of mash. This eliminates dustiness. It takes the birds about five times longer to eat mash than pellets, which means that they need more feeder space with mash. Also, the birds tend to "beak out" mash onto the ground, where it's lost. Pellets that fall the the ground are generally eaten anyway. People who raise birds in confinement often prefer mash because it keeps the birds busy. We have pasture to keep the birds busy.

Tiny chicks can't handle pellets. Crumbles (which the feed mill makes by taking the pellets and running them through rollers) may be a good compromise if you want to use exactly the same feed from day-old till slaughter. We find it simpler to use a different feed for baby chicks than birds on pasture.

By the way, one study tested the effect of substituting grain for the layer ration in hens (to see what happens when you run out of feed and the mill can't give you a new batch right away), and if you didn't do this any longer than six days, it had no effect. The hens must have called on body reserves of the things missing from the grain, and kept laying away. They also tested the old belief that hens are reluctant to switch to a new ration if it's from a different manufacturer, is a different texture, or a different color. In the tests, this wasn't true, and egg production was unaffected by whipsawing the hens from one balanced ration to another. I didn't see any comparable work done on broilers, but my guess is that filling the feeders up with grain (if you've run out of everything else) is far better than leaving the broilers hungry.

Robert Plamondon * High-Tech Technical Writing 36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett OR 97326 541-453-5841 * Fax: 541-453-4139 mailto:robert at *


From: "Randy Simpson" --- bullfrog at --- December 16, 1999


I just visited another "health food" store with a sandwich counter. They offered "Range Fed Chickens" so I asked the owner where she got them. She couldn't tell me exactly, "some co-op in Virginia, I think." I warned her that buying sight unseen, depending upon the labeling, was very risky. It is always best to talk to the provider, visit if you can, and confirm that what you're buying is truly healthy food. She didn't understand that "organic" chickens can be raised in a confinement house and mechanically slaughtered and they can be "range fed" if the door is open at the end of the house to a mud lot. Or that 5 acres of grass can be available to them but they congregate in the fecal mud hole in one corner, eating dead chickens. I'm going to put together a brochure titled "Range Fed Poultry, Is it all it's cracked up to be?" and carry it with me to educate these folks. I do wish we lived in a more perfect world where the proprietors of these "health food" stores would personally check out their sources before they feed their unsuspecting customers junk.

Randy Simpson
Things Eternal Farm
Fairfield, PA


From: "Robert Plamondon" robert at Dec. 14, 1999


*What practices are included in nearly all Pasture Poultry endeavors?

Poultry that form one element of a crop-rotation system or who share permanent pasture with other livestock. Other systems of poultrykeeping are monoculture systems, where poultry occupy the land exclusively over a period of years. (Having a "monoculture mindset" is the short road to failure in small-farm poultrykeeping.)

*What additional practices may be included in some farms but not in others practicing Pasture Poultry?

God knows. Anything. It's a big world out there, with a lot of husbandry challenges. It's taking a long time to work out all the wrinkles involved in farming in one place; who knows what works and what doesn't in a wildly different environment?

I think that most of what's been published in magazines about the benefits of alternative poultry has been put together by people who are very ignorant of poultrykeeping, and their checklists of "bad" practices are questionable at best.

*Please state your idea of the numerical range of things in Pasture Poultry (such as number of chickens per square feet of ground, per square feet of roosting space, per nest box, the amount of time that chickens are kept on a given range, the seasonal changes and roughly when they occur, or anything quantifiable that pertains).

These numbers are fairly meaningless when you're looking for a definition. For example, you have only one nest box per ten hens, you're going to get a lot of floor eggs, but it's still pastured poultry. Inadequate roost space just means that the hens will sleep in trees or on the roof of the house.

On pasture, stocking density means nothing at all unless you consider plant recovery time and manure nutrient density in the soil. I could probably put ten times as many birds on a pasture in May, during the spring lush, as I could during a soggy November, where grass growth is nonexistent and the wet ground renders the turf easily damaged.

Generally speaking, chickens on pasture should be moved before they damage the pasture beyond the point where it will recover quickly. On cropland, the chickens may be on stubble fields or other areas where everything's going to be plowed under anyway, and the main consideration will be to move them frequently enough that all their manure will be put to good use and to get them away from the mud and dust they create by scratching the ground.

In short, if this year's crops do well on the spot where we placed last year's chickens, we're doing something right. If the plants don't grow, or we have to plow, lime, and seed several times a year to keep grass in our yards, we're overstocked.

Seasonal considerations vary wildly with location. Here on the Pacific Coast with moderate temperatures, wet winters, and dry summers, one can use the same practices with hens year-round, so long as the hens roost off the ground. Broilers can probably be raised year-round on a well-drained pasture with pens that don't blow over easily and allow the broilers to roost somewhere dry, but the standard pens are not suited to winter broilers. God knows what the right methods are in the Dakotas.

*Please describe how to perform the most important practices in Pasture Poultry.

You mean, "insert book here"?

*What is your professional connection with Pasture Poultry?

We sell pastured broilers, free-range eggs, pastured pork, lamb, turkey, and goat.

*Would you like your contact information to be forwarded to prospective customers? To be shared with others on the Internet? To be given to news sources?


Robert Plamondon * High-Tech Technical Writing
mailto:robert at *


From: "Robert Plamondon" --- robert at --- Dec. 9, 1999


The whole question of residues is generally presented as an article of faith when it should be based on facts. I've never seen a tally of the chemical residues in a grocery basket of conventional vs. organic food, an absence which makes me a little suspicious. Testing the products is probably a better indicator of dangerous residue levels than testing the soil -- since relatively few people eat dirt.

I'll see if I can find some actual test results comparing feed levels to meat/egg levels.

Jack wrote: > Pesticides (i.e. insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.) and > chemical fertilizer residue on corn, oats and soybeans are not as big > issue with organic farmers (it is a huge issue, however, with organic > fruits and vegetables). Of greater importance (cereal grain-wise), I > believe, is the the lower negative impact on the ecosystem by the > avoidance of their use.
> > Therefore, while you and I do not practice "conventional" agriculture, > and while our chickens are not subjected to pesticide/fertilizer > residues, the very use of "conventional" cereal grains in our rations > (I, too, purchase local grains...but not organic) indirectly supports > the "conventional" agricultural least to some extent.
My personal opinion is that sustainable farming is starting to win big, even in direct competition with chemical farming. Chemical fertilizer costs money, while animals poop for free. And chemical-based farming burns up topsoil, which can't be replaced except by switching to sustainable farming methods. You can't farm without topsoil, no matter how many chemicals you use.
Now, if I were in the Corn Belt, I'd probably hasten the inevitable by buying my grain and soybeans from a local sustainable farmer and have my feed custom-milled. But I'm a loooong way from the Corn Belt, and it's a LOT simpler to find the best feed mill in the area and give them all my business, buying off-the-shelf unmedicated rations.

Robert Plamondon * High-Tech Technical Writing 36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett OR 97326 541-453-5841 * Fax: 541-453-4139 mailto:robert at *



Dec. 8, 1999 I am one of the owners and the manager of an organic feed mill in PA. Check out our website at . We make all types of organic feeds and use Fertrell's minerals in many of our rations especially ones that target pastured layers and broilers. We would be glad to discuss the possibilities of providing feed to any group, co-op, or individual.

Ken Rice --- krest at



From BLUERE11E at Dec. 2, 1999

What is the best type of chicken to suppliment with feed, but basically leave on its on? I have many trees on ~ 1 acre of woods for food, shelter, and hiding from predators. A small structure could be provided, if necessary.

Ken >>

I can't think of any chicken that would have survival skills like your asking for. However, have you considered Guinea hens? here's a bird, eats TONS of bugs, doesn't tear up your garden scratching. Announces strange visitors so well, the neighbors down the road will always know when you have company, or a REALLY BIG SNAKE come to visit. The eggs are quite edible.. as well as the bird itself (they don't call it "the poor man's pheasant" because it's such a gorgeous bird.). The egg whites are actually better than any egg for merangue.. stands up stiffer. They have pretty feathers you can sell to avid fishermen that prefer to make their own flies, or sell to the local hobby store. They come in about 20 or more different colours, and new ones are always on the horizon. The chicks are cuter than most baby animals, and have 10x the personality..They get uglier though, as they mature. This is sortof like the reverse of the ugly duckling, they have a built in "grown-up" indicator.. a bump like horn on their head when the feathers on their head fall out. Sort of like a vulture just so happened to visit some of your chicken hens late one lonely evening, and guineas were the offspring of that tryst. They roost up in trees when the sun starts to go down.. Ever vigilant, they "go off" when they see an unfamiliar shadow or animal. Unlike a chicken or "sitting duck".. they watch their heinies when they sleep.. They help to rid your yard of pests, eat very little commercial food, and turn out a big clutch of babies twice a year for you to sell off and make more money off of them than the feed you put into them Did I tell you are very versitile birds??(G) No, I don't like guineas, never had one, nope, not me, don't know a thing about them...NOT!!! LOL Hope I gave you some food for thought. laurelle

Get your CAR or TRUCK ... UNSTUCK !!



Organic Chicken Feed at

Types of Feed

Mash: a blend of several feed ingredients, ground to a small size but not to a powder

Pellets: small kernels of compressed mash, causing birds to eat the whole blend, not pick and choose

Crumbles: pellets broken up into smaller pieces

Starter: a blend of feed for chicks and growing birds, usually in the form of mash; approximately the same as "Grower"; can be replaced with "adult" food as soon as chicks go for it, somewhere between 4 and 8 weeks of age

Grower: approximately the same as "Starter"

Layer: feed blend for chickens that are laying eggs, having extra calcium and protein added

Broiler: feed blend for chickens that are growing as fast as possible, in order to be harvested for meat as early as possible

Scratch: whole grains fed separately to chickens, usually scattered on the ground or litter of the coop; usually a mixture of grains, such as wheat, rye, oats, etc. (corn/maize must be cracked before using as scratch grain)

Feed Ingredients Concentrate: a blend of protein-rich foods, plus any other nutrients desired; usually fed together with a grain ration

Grit: angular, hard crushed rock, preferably from granite, used by the chickens in place of "teeth" --- seashells and bone CANNOT substitute for grit; for confinded birds, grit should be offered several times a month at least; it should be of the right size for the age of the bird (see Baby Chicks page); birds allowed to free range don't need to be offered grit -- they find their own ideal sizes and types to suit themselves

Corn: American term meaning maize corn, or "corn on the cob" (in England "corn" means what grain means in the US, that is, all food grains)

Grain: American term meaning any small, hard seeds, especially grass-family seeds (called corn in England); provides energy, B vitamins, phosphorus, and the whole grains are a fair source of protein, too

Bran: the outer coating of a kernel of grain; extremely high in silicon, which slows down its decomposing in the soil; cheap by-product of milling, often given away free by large mills

Germ: the embryo plant inside a kernel of grain; very nutritious and high in protein; wheat and rice germ (also called "rice polish") are a saleable by-product of milling

Middlings: an old milling term for the parts of the kernel that are milled off with the germ, and probably contain both the starch and bran (please email me if you have more specific information :-)

Calcium: provided by sea shells, crushed bone, and fresh or dried greens --- amounts need to be measured closely, if not free range; must be provided in higher quantities as soon as chickens begin to lay eggs

Protein: any food high in amino acids, used to build tissues; protein quality is determined by the "completeness" of the amino acid varieties in the food source; all meats, eggs of all kinds, milk, cheese, nuts, seed germs, and soy beans are high protein sources

Amino acid: a molecule that is one building block of protein; there are many different amino acids, most of which can be manufactured in the body; the few that cannot must be supplied by foods, and are called "Essential Amino Acids"; a food that supplies all 8 essential amino acids is called "complete"

Vitamins: an old, general term meaning "life-giving"; a chemical found in nature or made by man to imitate natural ones; new vitamins, and new uses for known vitamins, are always being discovered; see RECIPES section for which ones to use

Minerals: non-life-created chemicals found in nature; these and vitamins can be added to dietary regimens to improve health; sea water contains all the minerals of the earth, in their natural forms and safe amounts; "trace minerals" are those needed in relatively very tiny amounts, and can be highly toxic if these amounts are exceeded; "macro-minerals" are those needed in large amounts, such as calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium

Kelp: sea-weed, plants that grow in the sea; contains all the minerals of the earth; all kelp is edible, and can easily be dried and fed to chickens by clipping a sheaf of it to something in their area (also, this replaces any need to add salt to their rations)

Methods of Raising Poultry
Free range: ideally, not controlled by fences, able to get to fresh greens and insects; as commercially used, this term allows fences, with minimum amount of space per bird set by government agency definition

Pastured poultry: hens kept in movable, usually wheeled, pens, moved daily over fresh pasture, creating delicious meat and the very most nutritious eggs (and very fertile pastureland, too)

Organic: inspected by government agencies, organic food sources must not contain traces of harmful chemicals; the term as currently used does not insure that poultry has been raised in the best possible way, only that it has near zero harmful ingredients

Types of Chickens
Pullets: female chickens in their first year of lay, or prior to their first moult; female baby chicks

Hens: female chickens in their second year of lay, or after their first moult

Straight Run: a random mixture of male and female baby chicks, usually less expensive than only pullets

Cockerels: male baby chicks; male young domestic fowl

Broilers: chickens raised to be eaten

Layers: chickens raised to be egg-layers

Layer-Broiler: chickens raised to be both egg-layers and to be eaten

Meat Bird: same meaning as Broiler